Songs and Verses: Helping Children Transition

It may begin like this:

Your darling sixteen-month-old is enjoying her dinner.  As she finishes eating, she starts to play with her food, mashing it between her fingers and smearing it in her hair.  Then suddenly she is shouting, “Up! Up!” and trying vigorously to climb out of her highchair.  You begin saying something like, “All right dear!  Let’s wash your hands first.  Look how much food they have on them.  Oh, and it’s in your hair, too.  We’ll just wipe you off…”  Then she starts screaming, “OUT! OUT! OOOOOUT!” Meanwhile, you are trying to calmly explain that you just need to wipe her off first.  

Sound familiar?  As parents, we are confronted with helping our young children transition from one activity to the next all day long.  Too many of us try to sweetly explain that this or that must happen first, but to no avail.  We are missing a key ingredient in parenting; using songs and verses to help transition.

My youngest daughter is the baby in the aforementioned scenario. (Surprised?)  I realized I had begun to abandon songs and verses because my older children didn’t seem to need them any more. I also realized I really needed to back off talking so much to my baby and cue her in to what was going to happen next by using a song or verse.  I decided that every time I cleaned her off after eating, I would sing a modified version of Ten Little Indians like this:

One little, two little,  three little fingers,

Four little, five little, six little fingers,

Seven little, eight little, nine little fingers,

Ten little fingers to wash.

Ten little, nine little, eight little fingers,

Seven little, six little, five little fingers,

Four little, three little, two little fingers,

and one mouth to wash.

The difference has been amazing.  Now when she’s done eating, I grab a wash cloth, start the song, and she gets so excited to be cleaned up she starts bouncing to the tune in the highchair!  I don’t have to explain anything.  There is no back and forth.  She just realizes it’s time to be wiped off.

Here is a wonderful article called The Magic of Transition Songs from the Wonder of Childhood. It is well written, and the author does a terrific job explaining the Why’s of transition songs.

I hope your life can be made easier by using transition songs and verses!  And if you already use songs and verses, what are some of your favorites?

IMG_1752*Unrelated photo of painting with water…*

Thanks for visiting me!

Mrs. Mallard




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