Exit Strategies for When It's Time to Go Home

What kid likes to say goodbye when he's having fun? Our advice will get him up and moving.

Tough Transitions

Your child loves going to his friend's house, hanging out at the playground, or taking a trip to the local zoo. In fact, it's quite possible that he loves these activities so much that he doesn't want to leave. And he lets you know it -- in the form of resisting, whining, or even a having a major meltdown. "Making a transition from one activity to the next can be difficult for preschoolers because they don't have a good grasp of time and they can't appreciate why it's important to stay on a schedule," says Steven Curtis, PhD, a child psychologist and author of Understanding Your Child's Puzzling Behavior. If "I don't want to go" sounds all too familiar, follow our five-step plan to help your child make a graceful exit.

Step 1: Let Him Know the Schedule

While your child is eating breakfast, mention what activities you have planned for the entire day. "A quick rundown will give your child time to process that when one activity ends, there is still going to be some other stuff for him to do," says child psychologist Beth Grosshans, PhD, author of Beyond Time-Out: From Chaos to Calm.

Step 2: Give Her a Heads-Up

Children get most upset when you expect them to end an activity abruptly. So you should always try to give your child a little warning that it's almost time for everyone to go home, suggests Bonnie Harris, author of Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With. "Ideally, tell your child when she has 10 minutes until you're ready to leave, and then again when she has two minutes left," says Harris. To make it even more concrete for children, try putting it in terms they'll surely understand -- like we need to go after playing three more rounds of "duck, duck, goose" or taking one more bike ride around the block. Even then, don't expect an easy exit.

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