There’s no such thing as a meltdown-free kid, but parents already know that certain situations tend to inspire more tantrums. One of these is leaving a fun place, like a park or somewhere your kids are playing. These are known as “transition meltdowns,” and they may seem like they just come with the territory of having kids of a certain age. But one parenting coach on TikTok has a surprisingly simple tip to help prevent them, and you’re going to want to hear it.

Dr. Chelsey Hauge-Zavaleta posted this video, which starts with a clip of a dad telling his kids they have five minutes before it’s time to leave a bounce house. Right on cue: meltdown.


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“There is a fundamental clash of perspectives between the adult brain and the child brain when you’re trying to transition,” she explains. “This dad is future-oriented. He said, ‘Five minutes and then we’re leaving.’ His language is focused on what comes next. You know what the kids’ brain is focused on? What they’re doing right now.”

The solution, Dr. Hauge-Zavaleta says, is to “work with your child’s brain, not against it.”

“Focus on what they’re focusing on… Instead of ‘five more minutes until we leave,’ say, ‘five more minutes to play,'” she says.

Is it really that simple? According to her, yes! But that’s not her only tip. She has others that she says will make transitions even less likely to result in your child kicking, shouting, and fighting you every step of the way. Another thing parents can do is join their kids to play for the last few minutes. This, she says, helps “deliver the information [that it’s time to leave] in a way that matches their experience of the world.”

“You’ve got to slow way down and you’ve got to shift to their perspective,” she adds.

Some more suggestions: get close to your kids when you deliver what may be bad news, rather than shout it at them from across the playground. And use “melodic intonation.” In the video, she demonstrates how she sings to her kids that it’s time to get in the car.

Of course, there’s no advice in the world that will completely put a stop to meltdowns, because kids are kids. But these tips are a great place to start.

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