Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Use a timer.

What you can do

Use an hourglass or an egg timer to remind your child of the time needed to complete a specific task. These tools will also help her see how much time is left before she has to move on to another activity.

To help with pacing, break a task such as morning hygiene into smaller tasks such as brushing her teeth and washing her face.

Set the timer on the bathroom counter to help your child start and finish brushing her teeth. Then reset the timer for washing her face. Keep doing this for other small tasks until she develops a better sense of pacing for the larger task of washing up and getting ready to come to the breakfast table.

Repeated use of timers in this way will help your child work toward the goal of needing little or no prompting to complete the morning routine. If possible, try to make a game of it and build in a reward for finishing on time.

What you can say

“Yesterday it took you 15 minutes to brush your teeth and get washed up for breakfast. I’m going to set the timer to 12 minutes today. I think you can break your record! That will give you three more minutes to play with the puppy before the bus comes.”

Why this will help

Some children—and especially those with attention issues—have difficulty transitioning from task to task because they have trouble sensing how much time has elapsed. Tools such as an hourglass or an egg timer can help children keep track of time if their internal sense of time is inaccurate.

Using timers will encourage your child to work at an appropriate pace. This will help her complete the task on time and move on to the next activity successfully.

Practicing together at home can help her get better at keeping up with her peers at school. The faster she gets, the less she’ll stand out in group settings such as getting food in the cafeteria or putting on coats and lining up as a class before everyone can go outside for recess.

15Found this helpful
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