Ode to the Timer: Created for more than Time Out!

One of my favorite "toys" is the timer! It can be used for announcing good things, refocusing attention, as well as correction.  Timers can assist in developing the following communication skills: 

  • listening skills
  • anticipation
  • patience
  • enduring a task
  • completing a task
  • working under timed pressure
  • following a schedule  
  • focus
  • planning

The timer PLAtime bag is stocked full of "toy-type" fun activities for you and your child to enjoy together while building communication and relationship skills.  The following are added "tool-type" uses for parents to use personally or with their children. Cell phone or microwave/oven timers are great to use for these goals.

  • Set it for 2-10 minutes and work aggressively to finish a task (shorter times for younger children).  Then set for 10 minutes and do something enjoyable. Rotate this repeatedly until the required task is complete.  (It is amazing how many toys can be picked up or clothes can be folded in 5 minutes when a trampoline frenzy or dance party is rotated into the task!  This ends the procrastination and lessens the drag time!)  This is great for homework!
  • On Saturdays (or a day when your whole family is home), set it for every 2 hours in a manner your child will not hear (i.e. vibration of your cell phone). When it goes off, take a moment to be thankful for each family member. The next week when it goes off, make eye contact with your child and smile at them. The next Saturday say, "I love (admire, respect, etc.) you", the next Saturday do some other small gesture only you would do to communicate your care.  Repeat each thing 3 times in one day if possible.
  • Use the timer to "announce" good things; (i.e. "The cookies are cooled and ready to eat!”  “It is time to leave for a friend’s house!”) Tell the kids to listen for the timer to know when they can come and enjoy!
  • Have it go off as a gentle reminder that there are only 3 (or 5) minutes left before going to bed, getting in/out of bath leaving for school, leaving the friend’s house, cleaning up from free play, etc and they need to do or gather any last minute things
  • If you are worrying over something or someone, set it to hourly and pray each time surrendering that worry.
  • Set it for bedtime and awake time to keep you on a consistent rest cycle to maintain your relational strength.
  • Immitate the “Trolls” movie and let everyone know that the timer will be signaling “HUG time” and participate in family hugs all around.  Only do this on the occasional day for a couple hours or it may lose its humor and relational power. This is good when there have been increased sibling rivalries occurring.

Enjoy and maximize your time efficiency with these ideas! Feel free to add any of your own personal uses in the comments section.