Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Give fair warning.

What you can do

Give your child at least a five-minute warning that a task or activity is about to end. Also tell him what the next activity will be. Make your child repeat the name of the next activity.

The first few times you give him a five-minute warning, ask how he’s planning to wrap up the current activity in order to make the transition on time.

In every warning, try to use the same words and the same amount of advance notice. Also try to use the same positive, matter-of-fact tone of voice that makes it clear you know your child is capable of doing what is expected.

What you can say

“Jacob, in five minutes, I need you to come to the kitchen and set the table for dinner. What are you going to start doing in five minutes? Good, that’s right. Now tell me what your plan is for wrapping up your game in the next five minutes.”

Why this will help

Many children have difficulty transitioning from task to task because they have no sense of time or are easily distracted when working on their own. Warning your child and also getting him to acknowledge what’s coming next will help him start to shift his mind to the new task or activity.

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