I love visual timers.  I mean it. I LOVE visual timers.  They come in all shapes and sizes: sand timers, Alexa and Google have timers (less visual), the microwave has a timer (less readable for a preschool-aged child), and there are some great ones for sale that were designed specifically for educational purposes.

Rarely do I come across a child who loves to transition from a fun activity (i.e. play time with Mama, tablet time, time at the park) to a less fun activity (i.e. buckling in your car seat, brushing your teeth, going to bed).  If you have a child who loves these transitions, this post is not for you. If you have a child who needs a little help mastering this skill, read on…

What to do: As many of us know, it is easiest to throw a tantrum at mom, dad, or thoroughly- loved loved one when an instruction is given.   So, we use the visual timer to give a warning. In my house, it sounds something like this, “Winnie, I’m setting a timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, we are going to turn off the tablet and go brush our teeth.”   

Why it works:  The first caveat is that it doesn’t always work.  However, think of your favorite activity (i.e. sleep, bubble baths, morning coffee with a book).  When somebody barges in to wake you up, get you out of the bathtub immediately, or steals your morning coffee, and tells you to go to work immediately, you wouldn’t be happy either.  The visual timer serves as a warning. That’s point number one. Point number two: It’s easier to be angry at mom than it is at a timer. Really, it’s the timers fault that you have to stop.  (Okay okay, it’s not really that simple, but try it consistently and I think you’ll see results). 

When it doesn’t work: When it doesn’t work for you, be mindful of the circumstances surrounding the transition.  Does your child need extra time to make a transition? Do you need an intermediate step in between the most highly motivating and the least highly motivating activity?  Do you need to add a small reward after the tough activity?

Regardless, you can get these babies for cheap.  I have even seen the old fashioned kind (that ticks and rings) at the Dollar Tree!  You have no excuses now…go make your transitions easier!! 


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