Hi, I’m Sam and I’m a registered behavior technician here at Achieve Beyond. Today, we’re going to talk about using a timer to help prepare for transitions.
What is a Transition?
Transitions can be difficult for any child, whether it’s transitioning away from a highly preferred activity, such as the iPad or a TV show, or it’s just getting ready to walk out the door for school. Transitions can sometimes be overwhelming and evoke some challenging behaviors.
How to Use a Transition Timer
Some strategies you can use to make transitions easier for your child is giving warnings and setting a timer. Be cautious of suddenly interrupting an activity with a demand to engage in another activity. For example, okay, iPad is over now. Go wash your hands for dinner.
Avoid Abrupt Transitions
Instead, give your child warnings. So you could say you have one more minute of iPad and then we’ll go wash your hands. So you would set your timer for one minute. A timer can be visual to the child so they can see how much time is left, or it can be an auditory cue to signal the end of an activity. A visual timer lets a child know that the transition or termination of activity is approaching.
Add More Time If Needed
Some children may need a five minute warning and then an additional two or one minute warning. And others may just need that one minute warning. You can give your child autonomy by asking your child how much time they need before setting the timer and involving them by letting them set the timer or pressing start themselves.
Use Transitions for Another Task
A timer does not only have to signify the end of something they are enjoying. It can also signal the end of a task or when they will access something fun. For example, a timer can be set for reading for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes pass and the timer goes off, then the child can have the iPad. So the timer went off and then the child could have the iPad.
By using a timer to signal the end of any type of activity, not just the end of good things, there’s less of a chance of the timer becoming something aversive to your child. A timer can be used just to signal the end of something, whether it is good or bad. Its purpose is to assist and prepare your child for any type of transition.