Managing transitions

by | Mar 13, 2020

Managing transitions comes up a lot when I’m talking to parents. It can be a key part of de-escalation. Often we are trying to manage an escalatory situation which could be classed as a transition.  

Transitions cover a broad range. Everything from asking your child to stop watching T.V. to eat their dinner, leaving the house or changing lessons at school. There are lots of things that count as transitions and they can be hard for our children to cope with. As parents, we need to remember that not every struggle with a transition is necessarily coming from the same place. Therefore, having a one size fits all approach isn’t going to work as a solution. We need different approaches at different times depending on the type of transition or the reason our child is struggling. Exactly as we would if we were de-escalating. We don’t have a one size fits all strategy; we have lots of different things that we would use depending on the nature of the escalation. 

Be the last to leave

If we use leaving a party as an example, one of the things that can work well is leaving the party last. In the middle of the party our child can be excited and hyper. We then expect them to leave this heightened environment in a calm and quiet manner. That’s a hard expectation for many of us but especially for a child in a state of excitement, who struggles to come down, may struggle to leave places, has a fear of missing out and doesn’t want to leave (let’s be honest who wants to leave a great party early). Sometimes actually staying until the end is the best option. You can speak to the parent who’s holding the party and ask if it’s ok to leave last. As the party begins to wind down your child will naturally start to calm down. When you leave everyone else is already gone, there’s no fear of missing out, there’s no exciting party atmosphere still going on. This should make it a lot easier to leave and hopefully allows your child the chance to calm down and decompress. 

Remain calm

Another tip for transitions is keeping yourself calm. For example, if your child is in the middle of watching T.V and you say, “switch it off now it’s time to have dinner.” They’ve had no warning and might find it quite hard, particularly if it’s in the middle of their favourite show. It would be better to plan it, give them some warning, let them know what’s going to happen and just take it a little bit slowly. Try to stay calm even if they do start escalating because your frustration and anxiety rub off on them. 

Give yourself time

My last tip is don’t rush things, allow time. If you’re transitioning to go out of the house and know it’s going to hard, give yourself longer to do it.  The best case scenario is that you leave early and might get where you’re going early. Worst case scenario, you might be late but not too late compared to how late you’ll be if you get ready at the last minute.


That’s some tips for managing transitions. I share more tips and ideas in my free Facebook group  

If you’re looking for more support you’re welcome to join us in the hub. Connective Parenting Hub members have access to a recorded teach/discussion on the topic of siblings, as well as newly added written resources –