Improving Transitions


Submitted By: Star Lipe, M.S., BCBA

It’s 6:00 on Sunday night. You and your son have been outside all day and now it’s time to come in for the evening and get going on supper, bath, and bed. You tell him, “It’s time to go inside.” He loves being outside and does not want to come in. He starts to cry and runs across the yard.

This situation is likely true for a number of transitions, that is, when you have to leave something preferred behind and move on to the next activity – giving up the iPad, leaving the park, getting out of the car, etc. There is a protocol called Interruption/Transition that Reaching Milestones uses with our kiddos that takes transitions from something a child will not tolerate to something they do willingly and without problem behavior.

Before you ask your child to leave a preferred activity, show them something that they like; this can be anything from a squishy toy, a car, a piece of a cookie, etc. The key point is to make sure that your kiddo sees the item or the procedure likely won’t be effective. After they see it, you then tell them to leave the activity. If they do, then they get the item you showed them and lots of praise! If they don’t, then you put the item away and follow through.

Let’s apply this to coming inside:

You show your son his favorite stuffed elephant, he sees it and smiles. You then tell him, “It’s time to go inside.” He walks all the way into the house and you give him his stuffed elephant, tickle him, and say, “You are such a great listener!”

Crisis averted.