Moving on from activities
“We are leaving in 5 minutes.”
“I am going to switch off the TV in ten minutes.”
The function of such reminders is that children prepare their minds to finish what they are doing and move on. Even after these reminders, we may find that our children react when it’s the actual time to move on or leave a place. Children have not yet developed a sense of time to gauge what a duration of five minutes may feel like to prepare themselves to stop the activity they are engrossed in. But children can understand the idea of once or twice or thrice (we can also count with them.) If a child who asks for endless bedtime stories is told that they can have two more stories or one more story or that this one is the last one, the child gets a reminder which the child understands as a concept, since the child can count to at least three and more.
The child may take some time to learn to stop after the number of things decided by the child and the parent together but once that’s learnt, both of us, the child and parents get a tool to gradually move on from tasks which may seem endless when moving on is necessary.
This can be applied to multiple situations:
This is the last cartoon, we turn off the TV after this. (you may also ask the child to turn off the TV themselves)
How many times do you want to go down the slide/ kick the ball/ go on the swing before we leave the playground?
How many stories do you want? (we can bring the number to a realistic one while we decide.)
Build the tower one last time and we will leave after that.
Identify situations where you and your child struggle with moving on. See if you can use counting instead of giving time estimates. Make sure you give your child enough time to get on board and to get a hang of the counting and the moving on. Children take their own time to get a hang of it. Try to involve your child in the process as much as possible.
Note: Even after doing this, the child may find it difficult to move on and that is okay since ‘moving on’ is a life lesson if we really think about it. When we use such tools, we give our child a structure that may help them in learning such lessons. Whatever the child’s reaction, make sure you hold the child and sooth the child if necessary.