timers small talk

5 Tips for Timers

We love using timers at small TALK to help keep kids (and ourselves) on track.

There are many benefits for using timers with your kids so let’s dive right in.

Using timers can help to reduce problem behaviours and build your child’s skills and here’s how:

1. Timers teach waiting

“Just a minute” “hang on a sec” “wait”

How often do you find yourself using these phrases?

wait timers

The concept of time is very abstract and many children need explicit teaching to understand the word ‘wait’. When kids are asked to ‘wait’ it might be for a couple of seconds, a minute, a couple of minutes even half an hour. When the waiting time is defined children are more likely to engage in the desired ‘waiting’ behaviour such as sitting quietly.

 

Instead: “Please wait for 3 minutes, then we can go to the park” “You tell me when the timer is up”

Read more about teaching your child to wait here

2. Timers help transition

“It’s almost time to…” “It’s time to get ready” “Finish up so that we can….”

next

It can be really hard for kids to stop what they are doing and move onto another activity, especially when they are being directed to do so. Giving kids a clear deadline will give warning so they can finish it up of their own accord. For example your son is in the middle of building a Lego transformer and you need him to finish up so he’ll brush his teeth. Giving him a couple of minutes warning means he can put the finishing touches on his transformer or pack it away somewhere safely before brushing his teeth.

Instead: “You’ve got 1 more minute to finish that up then it’s time to brush your teeth”

3. Timers help pack away

“Pack that away” “Please put these back” “Put your things away” “Pack it up now”

Pack away

It can be super frustrating when kids are constantly leaving toys strewn all over the floor. It can leave you sounding like a broken record. A timer can be used in one of two ways in this situation. The first is to make it a race and ask your child to pack away as fast as they can before they timer runs out. The second is to say “When the timer runs out play time is finished and we will pack away.”

Instead: “Quick pack away before the timer runs out”

Read more about taming the toys here

4. Timers teach the time

“Just a minute” “later on” “soon” “tomorrow” “after lunch”

TimeTimer

Time concepts are tricky for kids and it can all just sound like a foreign language when there is no understanding. By using tools such as a time timer we can start to teach what we mean by time. Dial timers are the best way to indicate the concept of time in a way that your child can relate to. Use the timer to teach duration measures e.g. 1 min, 5 minutes, 20 minutes, 1 hour.

Instead: “We’ll go outside in 5 minutes”

5. Timers keep adults accountable

“Just a minute” “One more minute” “I’m almost done” “One more minute I promise”

When we are in the middle of our never ending to do list or doing chores around the house we can loose all concept of time. If we are using the term “one minute” but this turns into 15 minutes it can understandably cause frustration in our children. When we use a timer it keeps us accountable to our word and also benefits our kids by helping them learn the time duration measure of “one minute.”

Instead: “In 3 minutes I will come and play, tell me when the timer is done”


Whether its a kitchen timer you have laying around or you hit the shops and grab a fancy new one, timers can make positive waves in your home.

Download our reminder sheet for your fridge to keep these ideas fresh in your mind

Tips for using timers

What are you waiting for?

Purchase Time Timers and more here

We have some little 3 minute sand timers available in our clinic for purchase.