13 - 15 Months

When it’s time to leave and your toddler won’t go

How to help your toddler with transitions

If it hasn’t happened yet, it likely will soon: you need to leave the playground or somewhere else fun and your toddler isn’t having it 🙃

Now is a great time to establish a predictable routine for leaving the park, a party, a playdate, or any other place your toddler would prefer to stay. Knowing what to expect can help make transitions easier for them, at least some of the time, says Gabrielle Felman, Lovevery’s senior childhood development expert.

Remember that at this age, your toddler isn’t being willfully defiant. When they’re enjoying an activity, they just want to keep doing it. Felman suggests the following steps to ease this difficult transition.

6 steps to help your toddler transition from a fun activity

1. Give a countdown

Start by giving a 2-minute warning, then a 1-minute warning, then say, “All done!” Even though they won’t grasp the passage of time for years, instilling this routine now provides a buffer so that they start to understand what the warning means: “We’re leaving soon.” 

2. Offer one last turn

When it’s time to go, offer your child one or two more rounds of whatever they’re doing: “Go down the slide one more time?” Then, be at the bottom of the slide ready to go.

3. Show empathy

If your toddler resists or cries, acknowledge how they may be feeling: “You’re having so much fun playing on the slide. Let’s play on it again next time, okay?”

4. Give them some control

Offering a choice between two acceptable options—“Do you want to hold my hand or ride in the stroller?”—can inspire cooperation and help prevent a tantrum. 

5. Try being a little silly

Humor can go a long way to diffusing a tricky moment. For example, you can start walking backward to the car or jump like a frog and see if your toddler follows along. 

6. If they still resist leaving, it’s okay to carry them

With a calm voice, explain what you’re doing and why: “We have to go, so I’m going to pick you up and move your body for you.” 


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Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, 16 - 18 Months, 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Social Emotional, Behavior, Parenting, Child Development

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