Maybe It’s Not About the Timer

Maybe It’s Not About the Timer

Maybe It’s Not About the Timer

By ADHD Parent Coach & Teacher Educator, Cindy Goldrich, Ed. M., ADHD-CCSP


You’ve invested in a Time Timer to help your child with their time management skills.  That is a great start.  But if you find that your child is not quite embracing this wonderful strategy, the problem may not be with the Time Timer itself.  Let’s explore the social and emotional side of time management so we can create strategies to help you and your child successfully and effectively manage time. 

In my role as a Parent Coach, I’ve witnessed the common struggles parents face in managing their child's time. Despite our best efforts and intentions, we may not always achieve the desired outcomes. For instance, you might explain to your child that the Time Timer will help them visualize how much time they have left so that when they are done, they can go play. Yet, your child may want to discard the timer, explaining that they don’t need it. This is a situation many parents can relate to.  What's really happening here? 


Transitions – What Makes Them So Challenging for Some?

Moving from one activity to another involves what we call “transitioning.”  Many children, especially kids with ADHD, struggle with transitions, creating stress and frustration for all involved.  So, while we adults may focus on time management, it's crucial to recognize that it's not just about completing the activity at hand. 

I find it helpful to break transitioning into three parts: 

Step 1. Stop what you are currently doing. 
Step 2. Move cognitively and physically to the next activity. 
Step 3. Begin the next activity. 

As parents, we often focus on the next activity (step 3)—the place we need to go or the thing we need to do. However, your child might need your support to stop their current activity (Step 1).  Why? Because, for them, it's not just about moving on to the next thing.  

  • Maybe it’s their 'preferred' activity—that thing that brings them joy and satisfaction. Seeing time slip away on a Time Timer might fill them with dread, as they're not ready to part with the enjoyment they're experiencing. 
  • Anxiety could be a factor: They might worry about the repercussions of not finishing on time. The fear of facing consequences such as losing privileges, a lower grade, missing out on socializing with friends, or having to tackle the task again later can be overwhelming. 
  • Maybe they have a slower processing speed (this is an Executive Function Skill).  It may have taken your child a while to fully engage in what they are doing, so it’s extra frustrating to have to stop now that they are finally engrossed in the activity. 

It's helpful to understand your child's perspective before you focus on compliance. While teaching proper expectations, boundaries, and accountability is important, helping children understand their feelings and challenges is key to promoting problem-solving abilities and success. Partner with them to navigate these obstacles and cultivate healthy time management habits. This can also reduce tension and strengthen your bond.  



If you need support or more information, contact me at or visit for additional articles and resources. Together, we can help your child develop the tools they need for success. 


Previous post Next post