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Easy Tips and Tools to Teach Your Children Time Management!

Posted Aug 01 2012 7:00am
Do you ever feel like if you could just get your children to understand the value of managing their time you could let go of a lot of stress?
Whether it is getting ready to go to school, getting ready for bed or doing their homework it can sometimes seem like our job as parents is to be the drill sergeant in the background constantly reminding them of the time and that they need to hurry up!
I would like to share with you a few tips and tools that I have personally used in my own family as well as suggested to many many parents over the years who reached their wits end constantly struggling to impress upon their children the need to manage their time more efficiently.
The most important thing to remember is that children learn best when they are having fun so let’s be sure you approach this with your children in a light-hearted excited manner rather than one of “Now there won’t be any excuses for you to not be ready on time!”
The first thing is to provide your child with their own digital alarm clock and timer (the kind you wind and use for cooking).  Make them gifts with wrapping and all and present them to your child as items typically reserved for “grown-up” children…kids love to be treated as being older and grown up so this will promote a mindset of pride and excitement right from the start! Do not be concerned if they cannot tell time…they only need to be able to recognize numbers.
(*Note: This process works for children of all ages beginning as young as possible providing they can identify numbers and can be implemented at any age, yes, even teens!)
Next, you are going to work with them to decide how much time they will need to perform specific tasks.
For example, how much time does it take them to get ready for school in the morning? You can talk through all the things they need to do, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed, making their bed etc.
As you talk about it write it out on paper and guide them through the process. Once an agreed amount of time has been reached then decide what time they need to wake up in order to be on time. For instance, if it takes them 45 minutes to complete their morning tasks and they need to be at the bus stop at 7:30 then you know they need to get up no later than 6:30 ( I always added a bit of time for unexpected situations).
Then show them how to operate the alarm clock, setting the time and turning off the alarm when it sounds. Of course you will need to double check this each time but it is important to allow them to feel as if they are responsible for doing it.
The key is to be sure they understand that it is very important to begin their day at the decided upon time. It must be their responsibility to get up and turn off the alarm. Of course it is always best to place the alarm where they can see it from their bed but must get out of bed to shut it off. 
Next, get out the paper where you listed their morning duties and the allotted times and with that show them how to set their timer to the amount designated.
For example, if it was determined that they need 15 minutes to eat breakfast then show them how to set the timer for 15 minutes. If the next thing on their list is to brush their teeth and 10 minutes is needed to do this then explain to them that as soon as they are through with breakfast they must hurry to the bathroom, reset their timer for 10 minutes and begin brushing. Do this for all of their morning duties.
This process will take some guidance for awhile until they become familiar with it. Once they become accustomed to the process it is a highly recommended that weekly rewards be given for days they have successfully managed their time. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate reward…just something to give them the incentive and motivation to participate. You will be able to determine what will work best for your family.
Keep in mind that this is intended to be a long term process so not to set yourself or your child up for disappointment or failure. I once had a parent introduce this process to her 6 year old son and promised him at the end of the first week if he had been responsible and cooperative she would take him to a water-slide park! That obviously was highly motivating and her son passed with flying colors, however, the next week her son was thinking he would be rewarded with a trip to Disney and she was thinking she would reward him with an ice cream cone! Ha! Well, as you can imagine, that became a completely new situation that required our attention!!
In time, through repetition of the process your children will learn the “feel” of time passing which is typically very hard for children to grasp (even some adults too!). Eventually they will be able to set this up for themselves when something new arises where they need to be aware of time.
Using this process to teach your children to be aware of time, respect their part in managing their time and completing the tasks at hand within an allotted amount of time will go a long way toward teaching them to be responsible for themselves AND reduce your stress level!
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