A Life-Changing Tip for Smoothing Transitions so You can Actually Put the Groceries Away

little boy holding cereal cup and staring at camera

A Guest Post by Dayna Abraham, author of Sensory Processing 101, STEAM Kids, and Learn and Play with LEGO®

It happens every time. We’ve been out with the family on a nice outing and on the way home I decide to stop by the grocery store for a few things for dinner. Everything seems to go perfectly well until we get home and then magically, my son, my sweet loving, hugging son, suddenly turns into this massive ball of frustration.

He needs me for everything.

He’s whining, he’s pouting and even throwing a temper tantrum on the floor. Now, not only do I have a melting five-year-old boy at the bottom of my feet, I have a melting pile of gooey ice cream dripping off my counter.

If it happened once, I might pass it off as a fluke or that maybe he was just having a bad day, but the fact that it happens every single time I try to put the groceries away, it makes me wanna pull my hair out and scream. That’s when I remember this one secret tip that I used to use in the classroom all the time. In fact, I would’ve never started a day without using this with my students.

Before I go into this life-changing tip, I want to review or go over the times that I seem to see this magical and mythical transformation of my sweet and loving child, right before my eyes.

It seems to happen every time…

…we have to get ready for school.
… I ask him to put away his toys.
…it’s time to go somewhere.
…It’s time to do his homework.
…we’re about to sit for dinner.
…it’s time to get ready for bed.

I don’t know if you see the pattern that I see, but it’s right there. If you look at all of those instances where my son magically transforms, almost like a werewolf after midnight, from this sweet and loving child to a child who can’t seem to do anything without me and whines constantly.

It happens when I’m asking him to switch from one thing to another.

It’s that.

It’s that simple.

In the education world we call this a transition.

It’s when you move from one activity to another activity, but in the parenting world this happens so much on a constant daily basis that we forget that these transitions are extremely hard for our growing and developing children.

But all hope is not lost.

Don’t worry.

In fact, smoothing out these transitions will make it so your child can be successful and you don’t wanna pull your hair out every time you have to put the groceries away and so you can save that ice cream so it doesn’t melt all over your kitchen floor.

There is a better way and it doesn’t take very much to change the struggles you’re having.

Remember how I said that transitions or changes in events are extremely difficult for young children?

Let’s think for a minute. I want you to put yourself in your child’s shoes.

Close your eyes for a minute and think about something you truly love to do.

Maybe this is knitting while you watch your favorite TV show after the kids have gone to bed. Maybe this is reading your
favorite magazine or your favorite book. Maybe this is having a cup of coffee before all the kids get up.

Now imagine that someone, suddenly comes and changes what you are doing, tells you to put it down immediately and start doing
something that you do not want to do.

You would put up a fight, wouldn’t you?

You might even throw a temper tantrum just like your child does.

It’s hard for us, adults, to place ourselves in our children’s shoes, because quite honestly it’s been awhile since we were
in them. But when we can shift and we can see the why behind what our children are doing, it makes the biggest difference in the way that we respond instead of reacting.


One Simple Tip for Smoothing Transitions so You Can Actually Put the Groceries Away

The one simple thing that I used to do in my classroom to ease these transitions was something that was so important to me when I was in the classroom, that I would review it every day for the first full month of school.

The good news is that you don’t have to spend an entire month, because you don’t have thirty kids in front of you. This is something you can start today and start seeing changes today.

My one tip for you is to make everything visual.

I know you might be thinking, “What do you mean make it visual?” They can see that we are done in the car and we are moving to the house. I want you to move beyond that, I want you to think a little bit differently.

When children are young, their brains are still developing and they still live in a very concrete world. This means that they need to see, feel, touch and understand everything that’s happening so that it sinks in.


3 Simple Changes to Make Transitions Smoother Today

1. Implement visual schedules

Example: Before we get in the car to go to school, we need to do these five things. Make a visual chart where the children actually move one item to the other side after the task is complete.

2. Use timers that visually show the time ticking away

Example: When we get home from the grocery store, we’re gonna spend five minutes putting all of the groceries away. Then, you’ll use a very visual and concrete timer so the children can see the five minutes passing.

3. Breaking it into two simple steps

Example: Using pictures to explain what needs to happen first and what can happen next. First, I need you to help me put the groceries away and then I will play with you. Use language like…”first we’ll do this, then we’ll do this.”

I promise you, once you figure out this simple strategy to smooth out transitions in your home, you are going to be so much happier.

You are gonna feel more connected to your child and your child is going to feel like you understand why they are having such a hard time every time you go from activity to another.


Final Thoughts From Amy

I can’t recommend Dayna Abraham’s books highly enough! The Superkids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day is my favorite and is a masterfully created unique guide to navigating life with kids that will end the battles and arguments once and for all.

What began as a simple book with 75 simple crafts, games and activities to help adults and kids manage the most difficult parts of the day (mornings, wait times, mealtime, playtime, learning, and nighttime), The Superkids Activity Guide, slowly became a movement. The Superkids Movement and Activity Guide is aimed to empower ALL kids to speak up, share their superpowers and learn why they do the things they do so they can advocate for themselves!!



Dayna Abraham is the mother to three totally awesome superkids who inspire her every day to be the best grown-up sidekick they could ask for. When she’s not helping her kids conquer the world, she keeps busy by writing at lemonlimeadventures.com, writing books like Sensory Processing 101, STEAM Kids, and Learn and Play with LEGO®, and drinking lots of coffee. She loves getting her hands messy and creating crazy science projects and crafts to keep her super kids at home busy. Before she was a writer, she was a National Board Certified teacher, where she met some of the coolest superkids on earth. As a little girl, she wished grown-ups and other kids saw her as a superkid, so now she’s made it her mission to inspire kids like you to love who they are and embrace their differences.

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