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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