Are you struggling with toddler meltdowns before bedtime? Is getting them to leave the park taking longer than being at the park itself? Your toddler won’t get into the car seat, won’t get into the bathtub, won’t get into the highchair – and then they won’t come out of it? Or do you find yourself saying goodbye to a tearful toddler at daycare? Getting a toddler to move on from an activity SUCKS. If you want to make toddler transitions easier, you are not alone.


The concept of time is lost on young children and this is normal. Afterall, they don’t need to do anything, or be anywhere, because their entire job at this young age is to be present. Yes, even if they are hungry or tired (especially if they are over hungry or over tired), children want to stay laser-focused on their work and play now – so much so that when you move in to tell them it’s time to move on, it is both abrupt and disruptive to them.

You’re probably familiar with the haughty “NO!”. Or if you’ve got a verbally gifted child, you might have been blessed with “You can’t make me!”.  And then simply running away from you is often a top choice too.

If this is what you’re dealing with, you probably feel frustrated, angry, and helpless. So, you find yourself yelling, threatening, bribing, or maybe even abandoning your child (“Fine, if you’re not leaving, I’m leaving without you!”) in order to get them to Move. On. ALREADY.

But this only creates more frustration, anger, and helplessness when ultimately you have to use increasingly drastic measures to make toddler transitions easier, and very soon, these tactics will stop working all together.

Don’t pull out your hair just yet. You don’t have to yell, threaten, or bribe your child into submission.

DITCH traditional parenting power struggles tactics and

START slaying transitions, peacefully & confidently.

Keep reading for tips and tricks to make toddler transitions easier.


Get their attention

As mentioned above, your little human is engrossed and laser-focused on their task at hand. They have blocked out all other incoming stimuli including your voice telling them it’s time to move on. It’s time to: Get down, Engage, and Keep-It-Simple.

And because I like it when things are broken down step-by-step, here’s what this looks like to make toddler transitions easier:

  1. Kneel down to your child
  2. Gently touch their arm or shoulder
  3. Ask them to listen to you – “Hey can I speak to you for a second?”
  4. Make eye contact
  5. Use as few words as possible to tell them what needs to happen next. “It’s time to leave the park.”

Give lots of warning

Once you have their attention, state when this transition will happen. “In 5 minutes, we will need to pack up and leave. I’ll let you know when you have 1 minute left.”

Set a timer

If you’ve given a time limit, go ahead and set an actual timer! When the timer goes off, you can use this as the scapegoat. Then, it’s not about “Because I said so” – it’s the timer that dictates it’s time to go. This reduces the power struggle between parent and child.

Be Predictable

Toddlers love knowing what will come next. Also true: toddlers love control (and let’s be honest, don’t we all?) Being able to predict what will happen next will give them a great sense of control. If you live in a world where you have no idea what’s going to happen next, you essentially live in utter chaos and stress. No one wants this, let alone your toddler.

So, be predictable. Being consistent alone will go far to make toddler transitions easier between activities. Time warning and timers can be a big part of a transition ritual but there are other tricks too.

Here are a few of my favourite rituals that you can try today:

  • Sing a song to prompt toy clean up (a daycare and preschool favourite)
  • Dress from head to toe and name each body part to cover as you layer up
  • Gather all dishes into a pile after a meal
  • Say goodnight to each stuff animal before turning out the lights for bedtime

These all great routines and rituals to build into transitions to make them much easier. The key is to eliminate surprises!

Use confident momentum

Your child is a sponge. Not only do they learn everything by watching and observing their environment, but they learn how to feel from those around them too.

Children are always watching for their parent’s cue on how to feel about a situation.

  • “Mom looks like she’s hesitant on leaving me here with the nanny. There must be something to be anxious about. I don’t like this.”
  • “Dad’s got that face again when he needs to tell me I have to go. I feel uncomfortable about this.” Yes, even non-verbal children will have these internal feeling as they mirror how you’re feeling.

GEEK TALK TIME: Young children have an abundant amount of neurons in their brain called mirror neurons. The essential task of mirror neurons is to copy action and feelings at a subconscious level. It is a primal survival tactic and it makes a lot of sense! There’s not a lot of time to communicate that a snake is close by and very dangerous. But there is ample time for the subconscious mirror neurons to pick up that Mom and Dad looks terrified at it this wiggly rope thing and now I feel scared too.

Mirror neurons are not only an essential survival tool, but it’s tremendously useful in language development, understanding social norms, developing empathy, and much more. Pretty cool huh? /Geek Talk Time.

So, what does this mean? If you’re feeling worried that your child will have a hard time moving on or being dropped off a daycare, guess what? Your child is sensitive to how you’re feeling and will mirror all your anxiety and fear.

Counter this with confident momentum. Reassure yourself that this is the best decision for your family. If it’s daycare drop-off, you’ve chosen a safe, nurturing space to support your child. If it’s about moving on to meal time or bed time, you know that being nourished and well-rested is the best for a developing body and brain. Hold onto these thoughts. Don’t hesitate to move on. The more you are confident and comfortable, the more your child will be too!

Start implementing these 5 tips and tricks today

to make toddler transition easier from one activity to another you AND you will have a more peaceful and respectful home for your family.

Don’t hesitate. Start now and slay transitions like a boss.

Check out other recent posts here:

5 Steps to Raise an Independent Child

6 Steps to Setting Limits with your Toddler