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Transitions

Updated: Jan 16

Featured on the Hong Kong Economic Journal (July 12, 2018)


I grew up with a lot of transitions in life. I had many stabilities like my family but I moved countries, moved schools and without Facebook and Instagram back in the day, moving also meant losing friends and losing touch with people I had grown a relationship with. Going through transitions was challenging and it was difficult to move away from one place to head to another.


My now 2-year old son hasn’t had to face such large life transitions like moving countries or losing friends and making new ones but I think on a small scale, he’s learning to handle daily transitions and ones that he has very little control over. In his daily schedule, he has to transition from meal time to learning time, play time to bath time, reading time to bed time and each transition is challenging in its own way.


And that’s only for a young child. In classrooms, it’s the same way where we have to handle transitions. To transition from active game to reading time, reflection time to discussion time, recess time to writing time. All these transitions can be challenging for children.


Some children find it particularly difficult to handle transitions and may exhibit itself in outbursts, frustration, being stubborn about wanting his own way, not willing to move onto the next activity or carrying the same demeanour of one activity onto the next.


As an adult, it seems simple to move from recess time and to calm down for writing time but it’s a lot less simple for a young child. As a mother and teacher, I’ve found that some things help a child handle transitions whether at home, out or in the classroom. Below are my 4 tips for handling transition times:


1. Prep time


It’s not what happens during transitions but before it that matters most. For example, my son takes a while to warm up to new environments so I will speak to him before going somewhere and let him know what he’ll see, whom he’ll meet and what I expect him to do. It could just be in the lift on the way to a friend’s house or could be a couple days before me flying off for a business trip and telling him what happen during the time I’m away. Giving children prep time helps them to look ahead and mentally prepare.


2. Show the schedule


We do this is the classroom where it helps students know what is ahead. Instead of asking ‘when is break time?’ or ‘when do we go home?’, having a simple schedule laid out helps them to visually see what activity happens after the other and what they can expect. At home, it could be drawing up a simple schedule of the routine items after school.


3. Role play


I’ve found this helpful in preparing children for social situations. It’s one thing to say “you’re going to my friend’s house’ but it’s another to say whom they will meet there and what you’d like for your child to do in saying hi, sharing toys or whatever else may be. Doing role plays help prepare for the social situations that may be faced. Often I”ve said to my son “we’re going to see lots of people later and they are mummy’s friends. Please wave your hand and say hello. Can you show me how you do that? Great! Let’s try that again later with mummy’s friends.”


4. Countdown


Abrupt change is hard for anyone. If you try to get me out of the house when I’m in the middle of my favourite TV show or telling me that I have to get out of bed earlier than I had expected – don’t expect me to be a happy camper! Giving a fore warning of the remaining time before moving into next transition is helpful. In classrooms, it’s giving students a time limit on activities and a countdown until time is up. At home, it could be using a sand timer to show how much time is left before clean up time.


And with all the above, the most difficult thing is having the time to do it and the patience to execute. But the outcomes will be worth it if we invest in it now because we will have calmer, happier kids which likely means calmer, happier parents!


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過渡期


縱然我的人生擁有不少安穩的時刻,在成長過程中我亦經歷過不少轉變。從移民到轉校,在仍未有Facebook和Instagram的年代下,一次又一次的搬遷意味著我將要與朋友或曾接觸的人失去聯繫。從一個熟悉的地方搬到未知的國度,當中必須經歷的過渡期對我來說是相當大的挑戰。


我兩歲的兒子從出生到現在尚未經歷過人生的大轉變,惟我認為他應從小開始學習面對生活上的小轉變,以及一些無法控制的事情。日常生活中,他要面對的轉變包括食飯時間到學習時間、玩樂時間到洗澡時間、閲讀時間到睡覺時間等,每個小小的轉變對他來說都是一個挑戰。


事實上,不僅是幼兒,學生在課堂上亦要面對不同的過渡期,如從開心的玩樂時間過渡到閲讀時間、從反思時間到討論時間、從小息時間到寫作時間,這些轉變對孩子來說同樣是一個挑戰。


有些孩子會特別難適應大大小小的轉變,繼而出現情緒問題、憤怒、執迷不悟、不願意過渡到下一個活動,或把上一個活動的情緒帶到下一個。


作為成年人,我們很容易從嘈吵的小息時間冷靜下來,再過渡到寫作時間。然而,這看似簡單的事對孩子來說絕不容易。作為一位媽媽和老師,我發現一些方法的確可以幫助小孩更容易度過在家中、外出時或課室裡所要面對的轉變。以下是四個小貼士:


1. 準備時間


過渡期前的時間反而比過渡期間更為重要,例如我的兒子往往需要一段時間適應新環境,故此我會先跟他說我們要去哪裡、會遇見的人或我希望他做的事。這些準備時間可以是在乘電梯到朋友家時,或在我去公幹的數天前。給予孩子準備時間,好讓他們為即將發生的事情作好準備。


2. 提供時間表


我們會在課室裡貼上時間表,幫助孩子瞭解他將要面對的事情。與其問孩子「幾點會是小休時間?」或者「我們會在什麼時候回家?」簡單的時間表可以幫助他們清楚瞭解即將發生的事。在家裡,你可以幫助孩子設計一個簡單的課後時間表。


3. 角色扮演


與其告訴孩子「你將會探訪我的朋友家」,倒不如告訴孩子會在這個場合遇見誰或你希望他可做些什麼,如主動跟別人打招呼及分享玩具等,角色扮演可以幫助孩子預備和應對各種社交場合。我常跟兒子說:「你等一下會見到很多人,他們都是媽媽的朋友,記得要跟他們揮揮手和打招呼啊。你可以向我示範一下該怎樣做嗎?很好!等一下見到媽媽的朋友也要這樣做。」


4. 倒數


我相信每個人都會對突如其來的轉變感到難以接受,如果你在我看電視時把我召到屋外,或在原定的起床時間前把我叫醒——不要奢望我會笑臉盈盈地對著你!過渡期前一個小小的預警可謂相當有用,在課室裡,老師讓孩子知道活動的時限,在活動開始時倒數至完結;在家裡,父母可以嘗試用漏斗,讓孩子知道距離收拾時間還有多久。


要實行以上措施,最困難的是要花大量時間和心力。然而,這些時間和心力絕對值得投資,因為這四個小貼士將有助塑造更冷靜、更快樂的孩子,建立一個更快樂的家庭!


2018年7月20日(香港經濟日報)



#Relationships #Respect