It was one of the first things we learned about in our Search for Solving Simon, and one that worked frequently and right away. And yet, it’s one thing that’s hardest for me to remember. I don’t know what kind of magic they hold, but for us, transition objects work.
It started with OT at three years old, when the therapist had Simon roll a ball from the gym out to the waiting room to stop his not-wanting-to-leave meltdowns. I thought he was simply young enough to be fooled into thinking we were still playing and he didn’t actually have to leave, but it’s kept working, and now at five years old, he has even suggested the transition object strategy himself.
We discussed one evening a few months ago how to get him to stop fighting when it was time to sit down for dinner, and he suggested bringing along a train. We wrote on the schedule, and tried it out. It worked. When one of us parents or Simon himself remembers to do it, he brings a train from the table and sits down, whine-free. Sometimes he’s fine without the train, sometimes he’s not fine and we forget the train, but when he’s not fine and someone remembers to trundle a train over, he’s content. One recent evening he was wailing from outside, desperately wanting to avoid coming in to dinner. I asked him if he wanted to pick a train to bring to the table, but guessing that it might not be quite enough to smooth things over, I added the option for me to pick one out and surprise him. He chose the surprise. While he did end up switching for a different train to sit next to his plate, the transition object with, added options, worked beautifully, and he came inside without a hint of dismay.
He brings his ‘guys’ (blanky, kitty, mousey) into the car to transition to school, the train to the dinner table, and uses reading a short story to transition from play time to getting ready for bedtime. When he started kicking up a fit about leaving a restaurant recently, a train went by, he watched it through the gate, and left happily. I think that the magic of transition objects is part distraction, part control, part continuity and familiarity, and well, part magic.
Have others found transition objects helpful? What is your child’s object of choice, and what makes them magic for you?