Sand Timers- Strategies for Fair Play, and a timely solution to routines of the day

Sand Timers- Strategies for Fair Play, and a timely solution to routines of the day

 When there's a change to a childs routine, timing is everything! And change under time restraints we all know can often escalate to meltdowns...Costing you time and stress.

Most parents know the best way to signal change to their child is pre warn, pre warn and pre warn again! While offering pre warnings to prevent the sudden ‘jolt’ of change of activity are effective in minimising stress on your child (and you) and encouraging greater chances of compliance, old man ‘time’ is usually the one factor that slips away in this process...

Does this sound familiar? Mum needs Jonny to 1) get out of bed 2) help him get dressed appropriately (its 5 degrees outside and he won’t wear that new jacket you just bought him) 3) eat breakfast-(will only eat vegemite toast and you’d just run out) 4) brush teeth, and on it goes.

You’ve got your own work deadlines, and rushing any part of this process can snowball into a meltdown, taking 10 times longer had you played it cool. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Pre warning strategies are effective, but their are other additional strategies that prevent or mitigate the highly frustrating loss of time and timeliness, while ‘processing the children’.

Tools like a sand timer collection offers a solution with effective time management and sharing strategies for your child. Sand timers are a beautiful and unbiased time limiter to help adjust and deliver that change. With a tool like a Sand timer, your child has a constant reference to time, developing the instinct of the passing of time, and it's finality, as sure as the last sands hit the bottom.

A sand timer offers an unbiased, objective and abstract deadline, taking the heat off you to enforce that time constraint, making your life easier transitioning the change in routine.

I employ the use of 1 minute, 5, 10 and 30 minute sand timers according to the time limit required or from small and simple routine transitions, to more complicated executive functioning tasks requiring longer time to complete, each unique duration sand timer is a tool to motivate and action tasks, minimising ‘the open ended’ loss of time, and reducing subjective resistance to completing tasks.

Nothing is a magic bullet for guiding and motivating neuro diverse children through routine changes, but if you employ some creativity and adaptability around the use of Sand timers, they can be an incredibly effective tool surrounding timeliness and routine.

Benefits of 1, 5, 10, & 30 minute timers  

1) They are pretty and captivating for the child- encouraging engagement in employing time strategies.

2) They take the pressure off the parent enforcing time restrictions and onto an abstract object.

3) Children learn a sense of time passing, and how long things take, increasing cognitive awareness.

4) Children can argue with a parent, but its harder arguing with a sand timer!

5) Turn resistance and non compliance, into a ‘game’ - how quickly can you get ready before the timer runs out? Can you beat your last time?- Convert resistance into motivation.

Sharing- the bonus Benefit of Sand Timers- Siblings, Friends and Classmates.

With a child on the Autism spectrum (he is now 13) for all his beautiful quirks, sharing is still the most challenging and unflattering traits we deal with on a daily basis.

Sharing over possessions or toys, is right up there, and enforcing the rights of others fairly often leads to meltdowns. Sometimes bending the ‘rules’ of time and space around your neuro-diverse child is the only option, but what happens when it collides with the fairness of others? Is it worth drawing the line in the sand? (No pun intended) Can you reconcile a fluid set of rules with one child and more firm with the others?

That’s a bigger question that deserves its own blog topic, but for now, the appropriate sand timer can help steer you away from that dilemma, by its unbiased, objective and abstract representation of ‘turn time’, whether as a means to encourage acceptance of your ‘turn’ or create understanding to respect others ‘turns’ while you wait for your ‘time’.

Other learning areas of Sand timers

Understanding Maths- The cornerstone of time!

Understanding the world- observation, acceptance and accountability

Communication and Language- Reasoning, negotiating, Accepting, quantifying fairness

So what are some Sand timer time management strategy examples?

1 Min timer: Duration for Brushing teeth, activity compliance in the classroom, mentally prepare before going outside, or getting out of bed, 'turns' in a game. 

5 Min timer: Time before its Mum and Dad's turn on the telly, time to get clothes on, time to leave for an appointment, time until dishes time, time left to play outside, time in the shower

10 Min timer: Time before going to school, time to read in class, time before recess, time before bed time, time to get dressed, time for your turn on the swing, 

30 Min timer: Time until TV is turned off, time for gaming, time for bedtime stories, time before dinner is cooked, time before lunchtime.

Whether it’s encouraging equity between others, social cohesion, or just trying to get out the door without stress or consequence, employing the creative use of sand timers, not only helps with the daily challenges, but teaches your child intrinsic social and life lessons about the relationship between time and tasks, promoting self regulation and self management, and normalising equity amongst peers through assisting with fair play and sharing.

All the best out there, you are doing a fab job!




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