There are so many times through my day when I wonder if I’m going crazy as a parent. Right? It’s like “is anyone else saying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?” Isn’t that the definition of crazy? And yet, I find myself stuck in that same cycle regularly.

Just yesterday evening I asked my children to pick up all of their stuff on the front yard and put it away. I asked them to do this no less than seven times. It just became something I said every time I filled up my wine glass and came back out onto the porch. “Okay, everyone, seriously! Pick up your stuff.” I may as well have been speaking Groot.

Here are 11 things parents can learn from teachers about transitions:

1. Stick to the schedule
Children need a routine, heck everyone needs a routine. Make things clear and easy to follow so kids don’t have to guess what’s next.

2. Wait until everyone is focused before asking the question
When distractions are removed, children are more able to process what you want them to do.

3. Break it down
There were several things in the front yard that needed doing, but each required different strategies. If I had told them to put the bikes away first and then asked them to pick up their clothing and hang it inside where it belongs, it might have been accomplished.

4. Ask your child to repeat what you said
Teachers often ask kids to say back what they understand. This makes great sense and certainly avoids your child telling you she didn’t know what she was supposed to do.

5. Show them that change can be okay
As teachers, we all know that telling kids what’s happening next or why doing this activity is a good idea, things go better. Everyone likes to know that dessert is at the end of dinner, even if it’s just sliced apple.

6. Be prepared
Teachers have a plan for the entire day. They know that being over-planned is always better than being under-planned. Don’t let your child feel that there is nothing ahead of this one activity or there will be no sense of urgency or time frame.

7. Say it once and mean it
If kids know you are going to say something five times, they aren’t going to do it the first time you ask. This is a difficult parenting lesson. We’ve all gone down the hysterical route, “why can’t you just do it?!!”

8. Define physical boundaries and spaces
Use language that shows them where one thing must be done. Start by stating, in the kitchen or your room or whatever. This helps them focus on where they are expected to be.

9. Teach and use transition words
Before you can start to communicate with kids about transitioning, they need to understand concepts like first, then, after, next, now and later. Once they know the concepts, they need to hear you explain when something is going to be happening.

  • First you play outside, then you put your bike away here
  • Now we’re watching tv, after we’ll take a shower
  • Your brother is first for our goodnight routine and then you’re next
  • You can have lunch after you wash your hands

10. Teach tangible time
Time is not just hands on a clock or numbers on a screen. Play games with your child where you set the timer for 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 5 minutes so they can feel what that means.

11. Use proximity as mild pressure
When teachers know that a student understands what needs to be done, but that student is not doing the work: she gets closer to the student. They both know what this proximity means and it’s usually pretty effective. Stand near your child…but don’t repeat what you’ve asked him to do.