TODDLERS: LIMITING TANTRUMS OR ADDING RESPONSIBILITY–WITH THE EXTRA STEP

Have you ever tried to end an activity just to be met with extreme upset or a tantrum? Part of this, from the child’s aspect, is a lack of control and not knowing what’s coming next. We are ending something enjoyable and they have no idea when they get to do it again.

Washing hands here is a big deal. While we do it after every potty break, which has helped reduce the amount of mess that occurs with water activities, every time we try to wrap up washing our hands has resulted in frustration. So what is the answer we have found? An extra step!

The extra step helps the child transition from participating in a fun activity to ending. Using hand washing as an example, “it’s time to dry our hands, let’s shake our hands.” Other examples of an extra step is saying or waving goodbye, hugging, and putting things back (this works especially well if they have something they shouldn’t, and taking it away myself would lead to a tantrum).

If I tell E and V it’s time to dry their handles after washing, I’m met with upset and frustration. If I say It’s time to shake our hands and then dry, completely different results as they are happy to participate in the transitional next step.

The same goes with asking them to finish up a project or anything else. If we add an extra step, an in-between, it changes the outcome as it provides them a sense of control and gives them a moment to comprehend the transition from something they enjoy to its ending. 

Extra steps aren’t just for transitions, but a way to increase responsibilities as they become ready. Right now the houseplant are a big attraction. They help carry the plants to the kitchen for a watering and back when finished. This was great, but they’ve decided that this wasn’t enough, so we concluded that we needed to add an extra step and double check to make sure the plants are actually thoroughly watered. Right now they hand me the plants to put back on their shelves, but soon, they will wish to add that to their responsibilities.

Have you introduced extra steps?

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