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There is an appointed time for everything. And there is an appointed time for every event under heaven.
Q: I’m wondering if you have any good ideas about knowing when you’ve given a child enough time to do something you’ve told them to do?
A: Yes, I have an idea! What we do in our home is use a kitchen timer. These timers are great inventions for parenting! It started with using it to give our oldest 2 minutes to finish his broccoli when he was young (ask him, he still remembers!) But now we use it to limit time on the PlayStation 2 and to give our younger ones added incentive to clean their rooms quickly.
The timer allows you to decide how much time is appropriate for each situation and the constant tick-tick-ticking keeps them alert knowing they NEED to get finished before the timer buzzes. It can be used as a simple reminder of time as in the case of the ½ hour of daily allotted time for playing PlayStation 2 or it can count down to punishment if the veggies haven’t been eaten or the room is not clean. This way you (and they) have a definite ending time. Just make sure you stick to it firmly – no adding extra minutes if discipline was expected when the timer buzzed!
Whatever you tell your children (whether in timing something with a timer or other forms of discipline), you must follow through with what you said would happen. If you told your child he must eat his carrots before the timer buzzes (and give a reasonable amount of time) or he will be spanked for disobedience, and he stubbornly refuses, you MUST follow through and administer the punishment! Do not waiver or change the conditions or the lesson will be lost and you will have a bigger problem the next time the issue arises.
Also, one last thought: do not use the timer for things that call for “first time obedience”. Examples of this would be coming when you say come or putting shoes on to leave a friends’ house without fussing when you say it’s time to go. A child needs to learn to obey the first time and not expect an amount of time to leisurely obey as they want. Hope this helps!
[Editor's Note: When two small children clamor to play with the same toy, a timer limits the time each can play. The device amazingly defuses an adversarial relationship. The children meekly accept that when the timer rings, it's the other child's turn. Timers are, indeed, amazing!]
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About the Author: Christa Bartsch is a stay-at-home mom who lives in the Midwest. She has led seminar workshops for women on marriage and parenting. She has been happily married for twenty years and is the mother of five children.
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch