We’ve been struggling with G lately in regards to time. He is in a very independent stage and wants to do everything by himself. Problem is, doing stuff himself takes (at least) 3 times longer than when Mommy and Daddy help him, AND he wants us to stand there and watch him do it, so we have less time to get the things we need to do done, AND he seems to derive great pleasure from drawing tasks out as long as humanly possible.
As a disclaimer on the title of this post, you can’t teach somebody who doesn’t want to learn, and 3 year olds don’t typically have a whole heck of a lot of interest in learning how to be more cooperative. That being said, we’ve found a couple of techniques that have at least helped encourage G to move a little quicker and to help him understand that if more than one thing can happen at the same time, we’re able to do more fun things in the day.
So, without further ado:
The first thing I did to help G understand that we can only do so many things in a day was to make him a “time pie”.
I did a quick search online for clock faces, downloaded one and printed out several copies. I used a ruler to divide the first copy into 5 minute “slices” and wrote the hour numbers on it. Then I cut wedges out of the remaining copies for the approximate amount of time that several of our common tasks take. Since one of our major struggles has been G understanding that we can do more fun things (like going to the park or playing together) if he will take care of things on his own, like eating his breakfast while I get dressed, I made sure to include tasks that I have to do as well.
To use the pie, I sit down with G and ask him what we need to get done in the next hour (it seems to be a common amount of time in which we need to get things done anyhow). We pull out the wedges for those things and arrange them on the blank clock. I start by arranging them with nothing overlapping. Mommy hangs out the entire time he’s eating breakfast, keeps him company while he uses the potty, helps him pick out his clothes for the day, all before getting dressed and taking care of baby R herself. Then I show him how much more of the “pie” would be left for fun things if, while he ate his breakfast, I could get dressed. If I could feed the baby while he used the potty, ect.
This seems to be helping him build an understanding of time, but unfortunately, sometimes he just doesn’t really care if we have time left or not. He knows nap time is coming and he’s going to drag lunch out til he bleeds every second he can out of it. That’s when the timer comes out.
We had been using a standard kitchen timer for a long time, but we found that he didn’t really have a concept of how long he had when we set it, and so while sometimes it encouraged him to move faster, a lot of times it just caused tantrums when the timer “unexpectedly” went off. Luckily, we recently found a better timer option for him.
We found all of these countdown timers on YouTube. As the time runs out, the circle changes color, so your kiddo has a visual of how much time they’ve
wasted used and how much they have left to finish their task.
I’m not going to claim that these tricks have completely solved the problem, but they’ve absolutely improved it. G now seems to have a much clearer understanding that, scream all he wants, Mama can’t actually make more hours in the day, and that if he’s a little cooperative, he gets to do more of the things he likes, and not just the tasks he has to get through.
What tricks have you found to help little ones understand time management? Please leave a comment and let me know!