Trouble with Transitions
By Jasmine Wood
It’s the time of year where a mother’s schedule can become overloaded with shopping trips, entertaining guests and in-laws, and a hullabaloo of holiday plans. With little ones at your knees it can make never-ending to-do lists seem near impossible.
With this in mind I wanted to chat about a problem I myself have experienced and have watched other local moms struggle with as well.
“We have trouble with transitions!” A friend exclaimed with exasperation, as I listened to her dilemma involving her two year old daughter.
I needed no further explanation because months earlier I myself had used this same exact phrase to describe a problem I was encountering with my little daughter just before her 2nd birthday.
The “transitions” both my friend and I were referring to are those times each day when you are actively moving your child from one activity on to the next. This situation arises many times each day and includes but is not limited to, getting your child out of the house for school or a scheduled activity, leaving said schooling or scheduled activity, leaving the playground or library, even simply getting your child dressed properly to go outside and fetch the mail together.
Meltdowns, tantrums, and extreme fits sometimes resulting in a bawling child flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water! These are all common reactions from young children when a transition time is upon them.
I thought that Rita was being difficult when she simply started to cry upon the 5th time I told her it was time to leave the park. Then I realized from watching other local tots that this can become a serious issue causing lots of stress to the parent or caregiver involved in the altercation.
“Alright, my little sweet pie we will be leaving in 5 minutes!” In the beginning of our struggle with transitions I believed that if I vocalized to my daughter the simple fact of the matter, that we would be leaving in a said amount of time, that she would be emotionally prepared for departure when the time came.
Not so! In fact she starting replying “Two minutes” or “One more” her own preferred amount of time for departure. After 15 “two minutes” or 12 “one more’s” on the swing, I was truly ready to go, but my daughter seemed no more prepared to leave than if I had never mentioned leaving at all!
What is the problem? I am being reasonable and rational here! These were the thoughts that ran through my mind as I carried my discontented toddler off to the car yet again. After weeks of the same struggle I clearly realized there was a disconnect occurring between my daughter and I.
So I took some time to reflect and brainstorm on new strategies to solve our day to day dilemma. The quote of a wise individual comes to mind “There is no hurry bone in a young child’s body, you cannot rush a toddler.”
In fact, when you try to rush a toddler it always seems to backfire and you spend even more time and end up with a frustrated child more times than not! So, with this in mind I started scheduling in extra time for these transition periods in our day. I began to leave 15 minutes or so of extra “free” time before we were expected to be on to the next task or activity.
Presto, our struggle with transitions was reduced by about 90%! By allowing my daughter extra time to achieve the walk around the house to the car, or the exodus from the playground, I was enabling her to be herself! The happy toddler who stops and looks at everything along her path, often prompting adorable insights about the world around us! This made me a happy mom!
Perhaps, it is not truly our children who struggle with transitions! But, rather most of us live in a world with over booked daily schedules and routines, busy routines which do not sit well with the mentality of a toddler.It’s hard to say how toddlers perceive time, but I imagine that their perception of time is wholly different from that of adults.
I imagine their timeframe is similar to that of Mother Nature, our plant and animal friends. Daily routines are determined not by the clock but by the season, the sun and the moon, the weather from day to day, and an internal clock which lets us know when we are feeling hungry, tired, or in need of a change of pace.
Tis’ the season to slow down! Let us all take a lesson from the little ones in our lives. Let’s take the time to live more fully in our hearts and spend less time stressing over the tick tock of a clock.
Some of my favorite days are the ones where we make our own schedule, the days where you finally see the clock time and exclaim “Wow, I had no idea so much time had passed!” For these are the moments that we have stopped actively moving through time and space and simply started to be.
Till next time, Be Well, Escape the clock and take some space to simply be!