Do you remember growing up and listening to your parents say, “How many times do I have to tell you to finish your chores? You have five minutes!”

Those words are typically met with a rolling of the eyes, a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of attitude.

Ask yourself, did your parent’s verbal protests ever successfully help you to get your chores done – or did you just tune them out?

We live in a culture now that is constantly rushed. There is little time for explanation and no excuse for error. It is important to teach children productive ways that they can know what is expected of them, and how they can complete these tasks without being yelled at.

How do we do that?

It’s simple – teach them about expectations through Nonverbal Transition Cues, a form of communication that involves sending and receiving wordless messages.  These cues involve the use of senses, gestures, signals or facial expressions to redirect or to communicate with someone.

One nonverbal transition cue is the stop light system. Use three circles red, yellow and green to teach children what time it is. Green symbolizes what the child can be doing whether it is play time or homework time. Yellow symbolizes that they have 5 minutes left for that activity. Red symbolizes they need to stop that activity.

Another nonverbal transition cue is a harmonica. Family discussions in households create a struggle when people fight for the spotlight. This makes it a challenge to focus attention in one central place. By using a harmonica to signal the interest of the family it serves as a gentle reminder to refocus attention and quiet down.

If you struggle with helping your child understand what is expected of them in daily routines, a good nonverbal transition cue is a picture chart. Using a vertical board create photo images that explain the schedule of the day using a “first-then” approach. For example the first picture can be a child brushing their teeth and then the next picture can be a child brushing their hair. Images that list out all of the tasks for the child in their routine, from first to last, can help them have a way to remember what is expected so that nothing is missed along the way.

Lastly, always remember that you can keep it simple! Giving thumbs up or a high five when a child has done something good can help to increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Nonverbal transition cues help children to understand patience, process information more efficiently and allow for better communication in their personal relationships.

Through the implementation of nonverbal transition cues, households have seen positive changes that include;

  • increased academic engagement
  • less disorganization
  • immediate reduction in transition time
  • more engaged and productive behavior

An added bonus, parents your vocal chords won’t get strained in the process!