Since the brilliant Dr. B is incredibly busy these days (in addition to her full-time job, she has also taken on a gig as an adjunct professor— the nerve!), I am forced to relay her expertise second hand.
Today I want to tell you about a ridiculously useful tool that she gave us as a gift last week. It's called the TIME TIMER(pictured left) and it's something she claims to use at her school with great success.
If we shut the television or take away the iPad, she freaks out, no matter how many verbal warnings we give ("after this video", "five more minutes", etc.).
If it's time to take a bath or go to bed or eat dinner, there is usually a chase around the house that ends with a healthy dose of flailing and crying.
You know that horribly effective move where your child makes their shoulders dissappear so there is absolutely no way to pick them up?
We get that A LOT.
Dr. B says the TIME TIMER can help us with a lot of our issues.
Basically, it's a large clock timer with a simple visual reference to show time elapsing (the red section gets smaller and smaller as time passes). Saying "five more minutes" to a two-year-old means nothing, but seeing "five minutes" slowly deplete itself visually will eventually begin to make sense.
She recommended using it in the following way:
• Introduce and explain the clock
• Use it as much as possible throughout the day so that Mazzy gets used to the concept quicker
• Start by using it for positive things like "ten more minutes until we go to the playground" so Mazzy doesn't only associate it with negative activities (going to bed) or ending positive activities (putting away the iPad)
• Give warnings as time passes ("five more minutes until we go to the playground…, two more minutes until we go to the playground") by pointing at the clock so she can visually see the difference
• When time is up (an optional bell will ding), blame the clock for the switch in activity. Like this:
"Ok, time is up! Time to put on your PJs!"
"But I want to watch one more video!!!"
"Sorry, babe. There is no more time!"
Point to clock.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
We have been using the Time Timer for about a week.
Here is what I have noticed so far:
1. Mazzy is definitely interested in the clock, in a good way.
2. Mike and I are now on the same page because we can both use the clock for reference. He doesn't have to remember what limit I set for Mazzy because it's right there in front of him. And we are both less likely to go against the other's wishes by allowing Mazzy additional time.
In other words— the timer not only makes setting limits easier, it makes us more apt to stick to them.
3. Mazzy is beginning to put up less of a fuss when we stick to the timer.
CASE IN POINT: Last night, I told Mazzy it was time to brush her teeth and she countered with, "No, I'm reading!"
So I said, "Okay, five more minutes of reading and then you have to brush your teeth."
To which Mazzy responded, "Show clock!"
I had forgotten but Mazzy had not.
Dr. B's brilliance strikes once again.