Do you dread dinnertime, with meals that drag on and on as your child does everything except eat? What about transitioning from one activity to another? How often do they wear you down until you give in to “five more minutes?” Have you found yourself totally out of things to try, having exhausted reason, bribery, pleading, yelling...?
Children with ADHD often fight rules and limits—but at the same time, they need structure. Using a timer can relieve the feeling of constraint, but it’s difficult for children (especially those with ADHD) to understand the abstract concept of time. Let’s face it, there’s a world of difference between looking at a clock and being able to say that’s 3 o’clock and understanding “how long” 5 minutes is.
As adults we can communicate using “later,” “soon,” “not now,” “in a few minutes” and a whole range of similar words and phrases. But how do you translate an abstraction like elapsed time to a child when most adults would be hard-pressed to explain it to another adult? To a child, especially one with any sort of special needs or learning challenge, this might as well be someone speaking in a foreign language. Is it really surprising that the results are so often confusion, frustration and even anger?
Time Timer®, with its simple red disk that disappears as time elapses, allows children to see and understand the passage of time. When the red disk vanishes, time is up. When children can look and see for themselves how much time they have left to complete a task, it empowers them to take ownership of their routines and transitions. Here are some ways that you can use Time Timer® to help motivate children with ADD/ADHD.
Make Mealtime Manageable
Mealtime can turn into a marathon contest to see who can outwait the other. Too often, the results are frustration and anger for all, not to mention the guilt that many parents feel because they can’t get their child to eat healthy foods. Setting the Time Timer® during meals can change the dynamics, and the focus shifts to finishing the meal before the red disk disappears.
Leave the House On Time
Have you ever found yourself chasing the school bus down the street or getting to work late yourself because you couldn’t get your kids out the door on time in the morning? If it helps, you’re not alone! This happens in homes everywhere as children are told “you have to be ready in 15 minutes” when they don’t have the ability to judge how long that is. The Time Timer® lets your child “see” exactly how much time they have. The less red there is, the closer it is to being time to go.
“My son used a Time Timer® in his classroom and he really wanted me to get one for use at home,” one mother told us. “He has ADHD as well as some other developmental delays and so we are always looking for motivating ways to keep him on task. I decided to try it. It was AWESOME for keeping him moving in the morning to get ready for school. I would set it for each task....10 minutes to get dressed, 10 minutes to eat breakfast, etc. And it really kept him on schedule and out the door without the constant prodding from Mom.”
Whether it’s brushing their teeth or lights out and going to sleep, it’s universal that kids resist routines. Reduce the confrontations and stress with the Time Timer®. Simply set the timer for the time you want those teeth brushed or their head on the pillow, and let them know that they need to finish by the time the red disk is gone. Then watch them take responsibility for making it happen.
Endure Chores and Other Tedious Activities
No matter what our age, some things we have to do are simply not much fun. Being able to watch the red disappear on the Time Timer® can go a long way in preventing boredom from setting in during those activities that a child doesn’t particularly enjoy. It can strengthen focus and also reduce their anxiety by reminding them that the end is literally in sight.
As adults, we understand that we can’t drive clear across town for lunch because we only have 30 minutes or that we need to finish our shopping soon or we could find a parking ticket on our windshield. We take this for granted. Because children struggle with this concept, there are often conflicts when it comes to transitioning from one activity to another. Until they develop the ability to internalize the concept of elapsed time, the visual display of the Time Timer® can greatly reduce their anxiety and frustration. “This is the best way I have found to get my ADHD child to smoothly transition from one activity to the next at home,” says Katya Broderick. “I would highly recommend this to any parent who has children who have a hard time making transitions!!!”