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Make Waiting, Transitions Easier for Young Children

Waiting is an important skill to learn, and it can be peaceful if we prepare young children for the inevitable “waiting times.”

Parents can be ready with word games, kid songs, finger plays, or a favorite book, toy or snack tucked away for just the right moment to buy precious time.

We all have seen grown-ups with their smartphones out the minute they are asked to wait, so why would children be expected to be more patient?

Transitions are necessary breaks in what is happening that allow young children to move to the next part of the day. Think playtime to lunch, dinnertime to bath and even minor moves that children enjoy once they are fully engaged in the next activity.

Smooth transitions involve planning. First, determine if you can avoid some transitions in your child’s day. If not, keep a good routine so children know what to expect from day to day, at least around eating and sleeping schedules.

Tell the child what is going to happen next, even before she or he learns to talk. Everyone is happier when he/she knows what to expect. Use games and sing made-up silly songs to help young children move to the next activity. Allow a little extra time for those children who need it.

Why do we all enjoy the occasional “pajama day”? Maybe it is because we likely have fewer transitions those days! 

Source:, NDSU Extension Service Family Science Specialist, 701-231-7450.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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