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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

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About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Kids and transitions

Uploaded: Jun 25, 2016
If you have a young child, you know how challenging it can be to transition them from one activity to the next. And that there are many tricks/products out there to help these transitions go more smoothly.

Timers can help a child know when it's time to leave the park, have a snack, share a toy, etc. Or just giving children a small choice about how to move on to the next activity - do you want to walk or skip to the car?

Recently I heard about a new product called Octopus. Octopus is a watch for young kids that may help them stay on schedule and switch from one activity to another.

Personally, I am hesitant to use these tricks/products with our kids.

Sometimes plans change unexpectedly. A child gets sick, a plane is delayed, etc. During these situations, I don't want our kids to become even more confused because they are used to looking at their watch, waiting for a timer to buzz, or waiting for me to give them a choice.

And sometimes plans change unexpectedly because a situation becomes dangerous. In those situations, I need our kids to listen to me (or the adult taking care of them), not a watch and not a timer.

I'm also hesitant to use these tricks/products because they could take away chances for kids to make decisions. When should we leave the park so everyone (including me) is content? How should we share the trucks so everyone is happy? How many books can we read tonight? Many times, if given the opportunity, young kids can (or at least can help) come up with workable solutions.

How do you make transitions easier for your kids?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mother of 4 , a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Jun 26, 2016 at 7:44 am

I am not sure about using too many high tech gadgets with young kids as I think it takes away their own ability to function.

I like to give 5 minute warnings before the ultimatum "we have 5 minutes more before we leave the park, before you must get ready for bed, before we leave for school, etc." seem to take away the shock value that the activity must end immediately, but I do try to keep these 5 minute warnings an accurate reflection of what must happen.

I also use a child friendly analog clock with clear numbers and hands. When the big hand is on the 12 it is time to get ready for bed, or when the big hand is on the 4 it is time to leave for school. Even a very young child seems to quickly understand the concept of a clock telling them the time and is a useful beginnings of learning to use an analog clock - a skill that is almost obsolete for many older children today.

I don't particularly like to use a timer unless it is to take turns such as how long a child can play with a particular toy before handing it to a sibling, but I do like to use a timer for races - an obstacle course in the back yard, or how quickly the lego can be picked up off the floor, or how long can you stand on one leg. But even then, an analog clock can be used particularly if you have one with a second hand.

I think teaching time accurately both in the precise telling time, and also how time passes, are very useful skills for young children to have and understand. It also teaches them how a clock is a tool and how they can use it.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 26, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Thanks for sharing your tips! Our son also enjoys using a timer for races and obstacle courses.

It's not always possible (as you mention, kids need to go to school, get ready for bed, etc), but I love when our kids can just get lost in the moment. And they can focus on playing rather than on the clock.

Posted by Great, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 30, 2016 at 3:06 pm

It's great your children can transition so easily and without harming themselves. For the parents who use these tools, it's not a gimmick or parenting cop-out. Routines and knowing what is coming next help calm children and reduce self-injury. Time Timers and the First Then Visual Schedule app are the best tools I've found.

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 30, 2016 at 3:26 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Great - Thanks for sharing two of the tools that you use to help make transitions easier.

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