I am all for avoiding meltdown. With this one technique, I think I have cut my son's potential tantruming by at least half. This will not cure all tantrums, but it will make your life, and that of your child's, much easier. I call it the five minute warning. Here's the thing, toddlers (and I'd argue most humans) hate change. Transitions are often difficult, especially if your toddler must stop doing something they enjoy (playing) to do something less desirable (napping). This technique insures that they are not caught off guard by such changes, and letting them feel a little more in control. Or at the very least, respected as an individual. Okay here's how it works:
The Five Minute Warning
1. Around 5 minutes before a transition, give your child a 5 minute warning. (Oh, please put away the stop watch, actual time is of little importance). Bend down, gain eye contact with your child, hold up 5 fingers and say "Five minutes until ... " (Five minutes until we leave the park, for example.)
2. The first complaint, if there is one, is met with further explanation of why the transition is happening. (We have to go home and have lunch.)
3. At the two and one minute marks, repeat the warnings as described in step 1. Again, this process sometimes takes us closer to ten minutes and other times three. The actual time doesn't matter too much.
4. Further complaints are met with this phrase, "Enjoy your last minute(s)." A gentle reminder that you can either play until it is time to go, or stand around and whine until it's time.
5. "Okay it's time to go." That's it. Your little one might protest, they may even end up tantruming the first time. But if you stick with it, they will learn the drill, so to speak.
We have been doing the warning the system since Jude was one, so he's pretty used to it at this point. It really has made our lives run more smoothly. I'd love to know if you do something similar. How do you make transitions easier for your toddler?
Here's to counting down, and avoiding a meltdown.