How to avoid tantrums when it’s time to stop playing

Do you struggle to get your kids to move onto the next activity? Maybe you face resistance when it’s time to clear up for dinner? Or have a bath? This is a huge struggle for children with autism, but, to be honest, it’s something that all children struggle with, whether they are on the autism spectrum or not.

Luckily, there is an easy trick that you can use to help your children with these transitions without tantrums, read on and I’ll explain.

Let’s look at this from your child’s point of view

You are a child, you’re playing happily. You are engrossed in whatever you are doing and completely happy in your own little world. Suddenly, a grown-up tells you to stop what you are doing and do something else, probably something boring and tedious. Let’s face it, you’re less than impressed, right? You were right in the middle of a super important game that was nowhere near done and now, with no warning whatsoever, you are expected to drop it halfway through. No wonder you’re p’d off!

You see, young children have no concept of time. They do not clock watch or have awareness of how long they may have been at something like we do, they just live blissfully in the moment. Blissfully, that is, until us big meanies show up out of the blue and ruin their fun.

So what’s the answer?

The answer is simple – if your child is giving appropriate warning of when they are expected to finish what they are doing and move onto what comes next, they are far less likely to meet your requests with resistance (and by resistance, I mean anything from moaning to full-blown temper tantrums).

Situations where this might be useful

This solution will be helpful to make the following types of transitions go a little smoother;

  • Time to tidy away toys ready for dinner
  • How long they have left to eat breakfast before you have to leave for school
  • Time left before bed

… and any other transition where your child might struggle.

Help them understand time before they can even tell time

An effective way of helping your children understand when you would like them to finish what they are doing is to give them warning of how much time they have left use a visual timer. These will help them understand the passing of time without having to understand how to read a clock or even identify numbers.

A Time Timer

A Time Timer is a countdown timer designed for children with additional needs, take a look at the video above to see how it works. The Time Timer is the ideal way for children who cannot yet read, tell the time or understand numbers to see how much time they have remaining before they need to move on.

Other timer options

Although the time timer is the most effective way that I have found to manage transitions, you can use other timers too. While these won’t be as easy to understand, other options inlcude;

A Sand Timer

An Egg Timer

The timer on your phone or iPad

Although this will not be as effective or easy to read, especially for young children, it is something that is always with you for when you are managing transitions out and about.

Give it a go

Next time you need to ask your child to finish playing because it is time to eat or bathe or anything else that is less interesting than playing, give it a go! Explain that they have 10 minutes before you need them to move on (although younger children may not understand the numbers) and set the timer. Give them more warnings as the minutes go down, then when you have just one minute left, be on standby to help them transition to the next activity.

Why not pin this for later?

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links, meaning that if you click through and make a purchase, I will make a small commission.

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