Time management has numerous benefits for children, no matter what age they are; for instance, it teaches them discipline and responsibility, helps them learn how to prioritise their tasks, divide the time according to their tasks, and ultimately reduces overall stress.
The few tips below are aimed at helping you support your children in developing their time management skills in their everyday life:
1. Start time management training when the child is young
Younger brains may learn things more easily, therefore it is helpful to introduce the child to time management at a young age. In this way, children will have plenty of time and opportunity to learn this new concept and for repetition to take place.
2. Be gentle when talking to your child
Just like learning any new skill, time management is a skill that the child will need time to adjust to. It is therefore important that the child feels supported and encouraged to ask for help, which will in turn enable them to master the skill.
3.Teach your child how to gauge time
Children who know how to tell the time may not necessarily know how to gauge it. For this reason, try to help them out by, for example, providing a verbal countdown so that the child can begin to get an internal feel for different time segments (e.g., five minutes, 15 minutes, etc.). In this way, they will know that they will not have time to play with their toys or watch TV if needing to leave the house in five minutes.
4. Help them establish daily priorities
An effective way to do this is to use the first, next, and last approach. Help your child think of what comes first in their day, such as having their breakfast and brushing their teeth. They can then move onto what needs to come next, such as getting ready for school. Finally, you can help them think of what should come last in the day, such as doing their homework, getting their schoolbag ready for the next day, and brushing their teeth before bed. Start small before moving onto longer-term priorities, such as weekly and monthly ones.
5. Establish gadget rules
While gadgets can help to improve work efficiency, they can also disrupt the daily routine when used without any set limits. Therefore, it is important to set a rule at home regarding their usage by, for example, having a no-gadget use time, and that the whole family adheres to this rule too.
6. Stay on task
It is important that children move onto what they need to do next when the time is up, regardless how involved they are in the current activity. Deviating from the schedule can confuse the child, thus it is important to stick to the schedule, particularly in those early days and weeks of teaching time management.
7. Do not overschedule your children
While enriching our children’s lives by signing them up for different activities is a good thing, overscheduling activities may take a toll on the child and the family. Instead of learning about time management the helpful way, the child may feel pressured to go from one activity to the next, which may eventually stress them out. It is, therefore, important that children are helped to schedule enough downtime throughout their day and use this time to play more freely and have non-goal focused activities with their family.
8. Make it fun
Making the learning of time management fun is more likely to enable the child to feel more motivated to engage with it. You may want to make it a game to see who can complete simple tasks that may otherwise take up a lot of time, such as brushing their teeth, taking a shower, or putting on their shoes. You can also get them to use crayons or stickers to mark special days on your calendar.
Time is valuable and learning to make the most of it is a skill that needs to be learned early in life. Therefore, make sure your child learns to value their time by teaching them how to manage it effectively and get things done.
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Dr. Ronald Zammit holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Southampton, has completed Master’s level psychotherapy training in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy at the New Buckinghamshire University in the UK, as well as received training in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). He has a special interest in mood and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related difficulties, personality disorders, and compassion-based approaches to treating difficulties related to high self-criticism and shame.