Change is Challenging – Transitions Help!

By FPL_Suzanne

Leaving the Ready to Read Railroad to attend story time or to go home can be challenging for your little one.  They may also react the same way when they are told to stop playing and to start cleaning up so that they can have dinner or get ready for bed.  One way to counteract or stave off a negative reaction from your child during these times is to rely on transition techniques.  Transitions are verbal or action clues that signal to your child it’s time to stop one activity (e.g., playing) and switch to another (e.g., sitting down to eat or getting ready for bed).  Here are some examples of transitions you can use as clues for your child that it’s time to change or stop an activity:

  • Time to Clean Up – sing the Barney Clean Up Song
  • Time to Leave the Ready to Read Railroad, library, play group, park – Make the ASL sign for “Go” or “All Done”


  • Make the Thumbs Up sign to signal time to leave or change activities.

  • Turning the lights on and off is also a good signal to change or stop an activity (especially if you’re at home)
  • Different animal sounds could be used as transition signals:
    • Cow – Mooove to another place or change activity
    • Cat – Time for quiet time, nap, or bedtime
    • Rooster – End of rest time/nap
    • Pig – Time for snack, lunch, or dinner
    • Dog – Time to play or time to go outside
  • Create a picture schedule of daily activities – eat, get dressed, brush teeth, clean-up time, reading time, bathtime, etc.
  • Songs make great transitions – Sing while getting your kiddo dressed or during diaper changes

Whatever signals you use to transition from one activity to another, practice them with your child and always give them a warning it’s almost time to stop and change what they’re doing.