Use a timer to announce transition times

Andy uses a timer to help his daughter understand how much time she has left before bedtime.

As our daughter approached the age of 3, she became a bit of a night-owl.  So when the call would go out that bedtime had arrived, she would become an emotional wreck.  You see, while she was busy playing on her favorite website or toy d’jour, I would appear (seemingly out of nowhere) and turn her world upside down with three little words: "It’s bed time."

In order to put an end to such antics, we now use a digital egg timer.  When bedtime approaches, we simply show our daughter that the timer is being set, tell her how many minutes remain until bedtime and that when the timer goes off, it will be time to hit the hay. This has made bedtime much more peaceful.  It also works for other things, such as "time out" or limiting television/computer time.

We use a timer for our kids, too. They have an easier time hearing from a neutral third-party (the timer) that play time (or TV time, or whatever) is over. Also good for helping kids take turns with in-demand toys.

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  1. Leslee says

    We used to count down…5 more minutes…4 more minutes…down to zero. I know I certainly wouldn’t like to be yanked away from what I was doing with no warning, so why should my kids?

  2. Mieke says

    We have found a timer extremely useful too. She doesn’t like to listen to adults, but the timed is a neutral party.
    We actually use an old-fashioned timer that turns around, so she can more easily see how far the red arrow is from the endpoint.

    Leslee: note how the original hack mentions “tell her how many minutes remain until bedtime”. So it’s not unexpected.

  3. kittenpie says

    we have used this for how long a misused toy will be removed for (a toy timeout!) and for how much longer she may sit on the potty before we move onto the next activity and try again later. Without it, she prefers to sit on the potty endlessly in hopes that something will miraculously happen and ignoring the big red ring on her bottom. Crazy pumpkin.

  4. says

    We used the timer to help them know when it was time to try to use the potty when they were learning. (AND it helped keep me from forgetting to remind them!)

    We use the timer to set limits for computer use as well.

    When my son was in 1/2 day KG, there was an alarm set in the middle of the day to tell him it was time to stop play, eat lunch and get ready to go to school.

  5. says

    The timer works for our 2.5-yr-old, too, though he does one funny thing: He likes to role-play after dinner (“I’m a dump truck”; “I’m a waiter,” etc.), but when the timer goes off, he resets everyone’s identity before putting away his toys (“I’m [HisName], you’re mom, and you’re dad.”)