by Kathy Kuhl (Part 2 on helping kids be more punctual. Part 1 is here.)

What’s worse: being chronically late—or having a child who is? Either way we feel frustrated and helpless.

In my last post, I recommended four ways to train your children to be more aware of how long it takes them to do tasks.

  1. Give them practice in estimating how long different tasks take.
  2. Compare the estimates to reality. The goal is not for the estimates to be correct, just for them to improve.
  3. Help them break tasks down into smaller tasks.
  4. Teach your kids that multitasking is a myth.

Getting your children aware of how long tasks take is a vital step towards learning to be on time. Today we’ll look at three other strategies to help them be punctual.

  1. Use tools to help your children be aware of time passing. Here are a few of my favorites:

Parents should have analog clocks in plain sight, with easy-to-read numbers. It’s much easier to estimate time on a clock face than with a digital display.

time-timer-plusWe can use timers to help our kids. I like the Time Timer, a visual 60-minute timer that shows time passing. It has a dial and can be set for zero to fifty-nine minutes. If you set it for 45, three-fourths of the dial turns red. Set it for 20 minutes, a third of that dial turns read, and so on.

The cool part is that the red portion of the clock shrinks as the time passes. So at a glance you can see how much time is left as the red fraction of the dial. Even kids who can’t tell time can see time disappear.

datexx Timer CubeOthers prefer the Datexx Block Timer, a cube-shaped timer you set simply by turning so that the time you want it to run–5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes–is face up Simply set it down to turn it on. Flip it and put 0 on top to turn it off.

Timex Ironman watches make it easy to set up to three timers, which can be set to go daily, on particular days, weekdays, or weekends. Mine looks like this, but there are many styles. Others might prefer the Watchminder watches, which vibrate when their alarms go off, giving your child (or you) a gentle nudge.

  1. Become a student of what works. I know six good books on helping distractible kids. Only the first is written for homeschooling specifically, but the others have good suggestions for helping your children learn to organize themselves:

a) Heads Up Helping: Teaching Tips and Techniques for Working with ADD, ADHD, and other Children with Challenges by Melinda Boring, which I reviewed here.

b) 50 Tips to Help Students Succeed by Marydee Sklar

c) Smart but Scattered by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare

d) Smart but Scattered for Teens by Richard Guare, Peg Dawson, and Colin Guare

e) Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD, and other Executive Function Deficits by Chris Dendy

f) Late, Lost, and Unprepared by Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel

  1. Finally, encourage your chronically-late child.

Recently, I was packing for an international speaking trip and I was very distracted. As I apologized to my son for neglecting something, I was surprised by his response:

Welcome to my world.

Annoying as it is to live with someone who is distractible, it’s a lot harder to be that distractible person.

How do you keep them from feeling like a failure? Christians need to remind their of their worth as a creation of God, in his image, according to his plan. But all parents can assure their children and show them we don’t just appreciate them based on their performance.

But can still be still frustrating to be chronically late. Thoughtful praise when they are on time, and gentle encouragement can help. In my new book, Encouraging Your Child, I explain how to avoid accidentally discouraging our kids, encourage them more effectively, and help them develop good habits of mind so they don’t run themselves down.

But I’d love to hear from you: what’s helped you help your child become more punctual? Comment below.

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