What to Do When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Leave a Location

Many children have issues moving from room to room or moving between locations on a daily basis.  In the ABA world, we refer to this as a transition.  For parents, finding a way to get their child to transition can be very stressful and can seem like it’s impossible.  For many children, this can simply be a result of a last-minute change.

Tell them ahead of time

There are ways to make transitions easier on your child so they are more willing to follow through.  The key ingredient needed to make transitioning easier is to tell your child ahead of time that they will moving locations Telling them where they are going next is also helpful.

For simple transitions, tell your child a few minutes before the time that they will be moving.  This could be one reminder or multiple.  For example: “Johnny, in three minutes we are going to the living room.” For some children that may be too far in the future and they may need another reminder one minute or 30 seconds prior to the transition.

Prepare for the transition

For some children, hearing you state when they are transitioning may not be enough to prepare them.  If your child is still having difficulty transitioning after you have verbally told them ahead of time, then they may need a visual reminder.  For these children, a visual timer may be helpful.

Use a visual timer

A visual timer is simply anything that they can watch the time decrease with an alert at the end.  There are applications that you may download on your phone, such as the Children’s Countdown Timer. Another example would be to use a kitchen timer or a timer on a watch.  The most important aspect is that they can watch it tick, or if it is digital watch it decrease, and have an alert at the end.

To utilize this method you would state: “Johnny, in three minutes we are going to _____.”  You will then set the timer and place it in an area that is easily visible to your child.

Give them options

A final recommendation is to give your child options as frequently as possible.  Understandably, there are many instances when you cannot provide your child with a choice.  But when it is an option it is necessary to do.  For example: when going to eat at a restaurant you could give your child a choice between two restaurants, and go to the place of their choosing.

When at home, you could give your child a choice between playing in the living room or playing in their room.  Regardless of where you are transitioning to these simple steps should drastically help improve time and ease of transitions. Keep in mind that learning takes time! Children are learning that you are giving them new cues and it will take time to adjust and learn the process.

 

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