Times where activities change often see an increase in challenging behavior. Expect that this will happen. Reasons include: participants may not want to stop doing what they’re currently doing and do something else, or they may not like what’s coming next, or…. Whatever the reason, transitions can be tough.

There are several things you can do to make transitions easier.

  • Expect that challenging behaviors will increase during these times – don’t be thrown when it does, plan for it!
  • Give the group a heads-up that the activity is changing (“In 5 minutes, we will be going outside”, ring a bell to signal a change in activity, use a timer – my favourite is the one where when you set the timer, the “time” is red so even young children can see and hear when the time is up)
  • Pay special attention to your kids with challenging behavior during this time. What will help them maneuver this change with ease? A one-on-one message, a bit of extra time….
  • Acknowledge flexibility with the entire group. In addition to empathizing with those who are sad or angry that the activity is changing. Remind them that you will re-visit the activity tomorrow, next week – only say this if this will happen!
  • Leave more time for transitions. Often leaders do not leave sufficient time, and when the group takes longer than expected s/he becomes impatient and irritated with the group – which can then agitate kids with challenging behavior.