Creating smooth transitions for young children

Having a daily routine set in place can help transitions become easier. Children experience many transitions as they start to grow, from home into crèche; from home into preschool or big school for example. When sharing parenting post separation transitioning into two routines in two homes with two sets of family forms can be difficult if not handled well.

When children know what to do and what to expect next, it is less likely they will become confused or upset about a situation. Taking time to explain to them that changes are happening is the first step in supporting a child with a transition.

Looking at physical changes around who collects them, puts them to bed, takes them swimming, reads the story are important to consider and explain.  Making time to talk it through these changes with children can be helpful. Introduce the changes into imaginative play time so you can help your child understand what will happen.

When sharing parenting post separation it is vitally important to talk to children about new changes:

  1. Talk together as parents about the changes and agree what you will say to them
  2. Introduce the changes before they happen – Mummy and Daddy will be starting to take turns putting you to bed. Daddy and Mummy are going to have two houses and you will sleep in both of them on different nights. You will not see Mummy/Daddy every day but you will be able to talk to them on the phone etc.
  3. Create opportunities to talk about feelings and to ask questions. Understanding what is most difficult for your child will allow you to find ways to support them with this.
  4. Some transitions are more challenging than others, such as bed time when sharing parenting, as young children want to say goodnight to both parents. Work together regardless of how you feel about the other parent to find ways to support your child to feel safe and secure with family change.
  5. Remember change is hard for us all, but taking time with it, talking it through and planning for it will help. Consistent routines will support times of change, big changes that occur with separation and small changes like moving school.