Words to Use When You Want Your Child to Transition from One Activity, Thing or Place to Another



Developed by: Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Ed.D. and Lynn Jessen M.A.

Quick Tips from the books

"Raising Your Spirited Child", and

"Kids, Parents and Power Struggles"

The day is full of transitions. A transition is defined as a shift or change from one place, thing, condition, or activity to another.  Whether it is getting dressed in the morning, turning off electronics, stopping play to come to eat, getting in or out of the car, or leaving a friend’s house your words can help your child shift smoothly – at least most of the time. 


Overall Approach: 

  1. Have a predictable plan so your child knows what is coming next. 
  2. Avoid surprises.
  3. Allow time so you are not rushing. 
  4. Ending a video is exceedingly difficult. Avoid the use of electronics before key transitions. 
  5. Plan to be available to help and support 
  6. Tell your child what will be happening after this transition. 
  7. Offer a choice of what to do during the transition. 

Examples of "what to say"

  • It is almost time to go do... what do you need to finish so you are ready to stop?
  • Do you want to know what is going to happen this afternoon?  Let’s make a visual plan so you know what to expect. 
  • How many more do you need to do to be ready to stop?
  • Where would you like to save that?
  • Do you want to take a picture of that so you can save it? 
  • Would you like to take that with you? 
  • What would you like to take with you? 
  • It is time to leave the park. Let’s go to the car and get your snack.
  • It is time to go. You can walk, or I will carry you. I’m going to count to three and you can decide. If you do not decide then I will choose to carry you. 
  • Let’s set the visual timer so you know when it ill be time to stop/go. 
  • It is time for lunch, do you want to eat at the dining room table or on the porch? 
  • It is time to try to go to the potty, do you want to walk backwards or hop to the bathroom? 

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Raising Your Spirited BabyRaising Your Spirited Child - Parent's Choice Award WinnerMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Raising Your Spirited Child WorkbookMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Kids, Parents and Power StrugglesMary Sheedy Kurchinka - Sleepless in America