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Here’s Your Blueprint…for smoother transitions with your child!

There are so many transitions to navigate with summer here…

  • End of school

  • Loss of routine

  • Camp 

  • Vacation

  • Visitation

All you want to do is get out the door without an ordeal!

Here’s the thing. Transitions are a source of anxiety and stress - that’s brain science. Recognizing this and helping your child feel less anxious by creating a P-L-A-N for transitions - that’s a parent-centric approach that will bring more ease to transitions.

An effective P-L-A-N of action for transitions has 4 parts. I made you an acronym to help you remember what to do “in the moment.” 






Create PREDICTABILITY. When your kid knows in advance what to expect they will be less anxious. Less anxiety means less negative behavior and smoother transitions. Some ideas for creating predictability are the following:

  1. Remind your child the night before about the next morning’s schedule - even if it’s a regular thing like school or camp.

  2. Create a weekly calendar. 

  3. Review the calendar together every morning over breakfast. DO NOT rely on verbal information only!

  4. Take photos of your child doing the steps of a routine, like getting ready for bed. I.e. cleaning up toys, going upstairs, brushing teeth, putting on jammies, story, etc. Break it down. Then have your child put them on cards or on a poster they can refer to.

  5. Create a checklist for your child to follow and check off by themselves.


Transitions require extra time, not just the amount it "should" take. But I’m guessing you’re already familiar with the exhausting effort of trying to get your child to hurry up and get ready to leave the house , for instance. Add 15 minutes LONGER than you think is needed for a given transition - (wherever possible). This will take some pressure off both you and your child and interrupt the negative feedback loop. It also won’t really take longer than the 15-20 minutes you would spend arguing with your child! 

But adding time alone isn’t enough for a smooth transition. You need all 4 parts for the PLAN to work effectively.


Jane rushed out of the house to pick up her 3 yr old at camp. When he got into the car, he was hot, tired and thirsty. He wanted a drink, but they had a 15 min ride to get home and she had forgotten to bring water with her. A tantrum ensued that lasted the whole ride home. No parent can keep track of everything in their head or anticipate every need their child has!   

So give yourself some compassion! Do your best to ANTICIPATE what you think you might need, and make a reusable checklist. This is helpful for the simplest transitions, like picking your kid up from school and definitely for the more complex ones like getting ready for bed or traveling. 

Jane’s checklist might only have 3 simple things on it, but then she no longer has to think about it: 

  • Water (for mom and kiddo) 

  • Snack for kiddo (crackers, cheese stick, bar)

  • Wipes (for dirty hands)

What a difference those 3 things can make! 

4. N - NOTICE 

And what I mean here is NOTICE your own stress. In my experience, this piece is the most challenging to practice. At the same time, I believe it’s the most important. Because your child’s brain responds to your brain, the more stressed you are, the more stressed your child will be. I know that sucks, but the opposite is also true. It also puts the power in your hands to step in with regulation when you need to be your child’s executive function. So as soon as you start to feel that “here we go again” feeling, hit the pause button and take a couple breaths before you do anything else.

Strengthening your essential parenting skills of predictability, consistency and self-regulation will reinforce this transition plan and empower you to bring more peace and harmony to your family. 

Click the image below to learn how the essential parenting skills of consistency and predictability can nurture loving connection and peace at home. (Even in blended families…)

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