This countdown trick will help save you from meltdowns on a daily basis.
This is your 1 minute mom-aid tip!
Take a moment and imagine that you're binge watching your favorite show or scrolling through an app and I come over, take your phone and say, "time's up, it's bedtime!"
Or maybe you're halfway through your morning cup of coffee and I tell you to stop immediately and do the dishes?
Would it go over well? I don't think so.
Now put yourself in your little one's shoes. Leaving the park to go home or putting away a toy for naptime - it's the same kind of moment for them and they often throw a fit because they haven't been prepared to make the switch in activities.
Counting down to a change is the way I use to prevent meltdowns and I do it in 2 steps.
Step #1 - Tell Your Child What to Expect
Every pediatrician tells new parents to narrate your activities with your baby to help language and speech development. Continue telling your littles about what to expect so they begin to understand what's happening. It's best to keep the phrase clear and simple. This can sound like - "We're going to the park and then we're going to go grocery shopping" - "We're going to play and then we're going to take a nap."
Step #2 - 3 Stage Countdown
For this step, I tend to do 5 minutes, 2 minutes and Last Minute. This gives your child plenty of warning before the change in activity is going to occur. This step becomes second nature the more you do it and you'll notice your kids will throw less tantrums when it comes to switching activities.
3 Stage Countdown Example 👇
⚠️ Tell them what to expect - As you drive to the park: "Hey kiddo! We're going to the park to play on the swings and then we have to go to the grocery store to get food. Sound good?" Make sure to get a verbal response.
5️⃣ minute warning - At the park after plenty of play time: "Alright we only have 5 more minutes before we have to leave to go to the grocery store. Okay?" Make sure your child makes eye contact with you when you say this.
2️⃣ minute warning - "Okay only 2 minutes left. Do you want to go down the slide again?" Verbal confirmation for this one is positive. Help your child get the most out of those last 2 minutes.
1️⃣ minute warning - "Last minute! Last minute before we have to leave."
🚸 "Time to go! Let's head to the car."
➕ Tip #1 - as your child gets older, they might try to negotiate. That's fine but do it during step #1 when you're telling them what to expect. If you negotiate during the countdown, it will undermine the process and lead to meltdowns.
➕ Tip #2 - Don't worry about using a timer to make the timing exact. It's okay to just "guess" on the timing. Your child doesn't know the difference.
➕ Tip #3 - If your kid still doesn't want to leave, let them know the consequences. "I love coming to the park but if we can't leave on time, we won't get to play at all. I need you to help by listening to the countdown and leaving when it's time to go." Add this to the step #1 next time to remind your child of the expectations.
You're doing awesome! Good Luck!