Transitions Made Easy for Children

Happy girl swinging on playground. Transitions Made Easy for Children from Red Door Pediatric Therapy

Transitioning from one activity to another can be challenging for children, often leading to tantrums and meltdowns. As parents and caregivers, it’s important to understand how to support children through these transitions and help them develop coping strategies. In this article, we will explore expert strategies for assisting kids with transitions, as well as the role of professionals in addressing these challenges.

Understanding Transitions

Transitions are the changes that occur when children move from one activity or environment to another. These can include simple transitions like going from the park to the grocery store, or more complex transitions like moving from playtime to bedtime. Children often struggle with transitions because they disrupt their sense of routine and familiarity.

The Impact of Transitions on Children

Transitions can be particularly difficult for children, as they may feel a loss of control or experience anxiety. This can manifest in various ways, such as tantrums, crying, or shutting down. Understanding the challenges children face during transitions is crucial in finding effective strategies to support them.

Visual Schedules as a Transition Tool

One effective strategy to help children with transitions is the use of visual schedules. Visual schedules provide a visual representation of the activities or tasks that need to be completed, helping children understand what to expect and reducing anxiety. These schedules can be created using pictures, words, or a combination of both.

Creating a Visual Schedule

To create a visual schedule, start by listing the activities or tasks in the order they will occur. Using pictures can be beneficial for younger children, as they may not be able to read yet. Older children can use a combination of words and numbers. Visual schedules can be made on a marker board, on a piece of paper, or even on a digital device.

Involving Children in the Process

Involving children in creating their visual schedule can give them a sense of control and ownership. Ask them for input on where to place the activities or tasks on the schedule and let them participate in crossing them off as they are completed. This engagement can help children feel more confident and prepared for the upcoming transitions.

Strategies for Specific Transitions

While transitions can vary from child to child, certain transitions tend to be more challenging for most children. By understanding these common difficulties, parents and caregivers can be proactive in preparing children for specific transitions.

Transitioning from Preferred to Non-Preferred Activities

One of the most challenging transitions for children is moving from preferred activities, such as playing with toys or using electronics, to non-preferred activities like getting ready for bed or leaving a park. The abrupt change can trigger resistance and emotional outbursts.

To ease this transition, provide children a warning a few minutes before the change is expected. You can use either an auditory or visual timer to help them understand the remaining time. This allows them to mentally prepare for the upcoming transition. Additionally, offering choices and involving them in decision-making can help them feel more in control.

Transitioning in Unfamiliar Environments

Transitions in unfamiliar environments, such as attending a new school or a social event, can be overwhelming for children. In these situations, it’s important to provide them with as much information as possible beforehand.

Talk to your child about what to expect, show them pictures or videos of the new environment, and answer any questions they may have. This can help reduce anxiety and make the transition smoother.

The Role of Professionals in Supporting Transitions

Trained professionals, such as occupational and speech therapists, can play a valuable role in supporting children with transitions. At Red Door Pediatric Therapy, we understand the challenges children face during transitions and offer specialized techniques to address these difficulties.

Occupational therapists can help children develop self-regulation skills, including coping strategies and emotional regulation techniques, which can be beneficial during transitions. Speech therapists can assist children in improving their communication skills, enabling them to express their emotions and needs more effectively during transitions.


Transitions can be challenging for children, but they can navigate these changes more smoothly with the right strategies and support. Visual schedules, involvement in the process, and providing advance notice are effective tools to help children with transitions. Additionally, seeking assistance from professionals like Red Door Pediatric Therapy can provide valuable guidance and specialized techniques. By understanding and addressing the unique needs of children during transitions, we can help them develop the skills to navigate these changes successfully.