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Hurry up now, you're always taking so long just to get dressed for school. 

Time to stop, you've been playing on the Ipad for 20 minutes now!


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That's not 20 minutes! I only just started playing! Let me play for 5 more minutes!


NO! I don't want to go school. 


What are the benefits of timers?

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It shifts the control from

parents to this inanimate object, so parents less likely to be targeted for the child's dissatisfaction.  Timers serve as evidence that time given by the parent was accurate.

Reduces Frustration



Timers can help children  move from one activity/location to the next. Visually displaying the timer can allow children to check and give notice to how much time they have left. 


Remain Focused

Timers are particularly useful to help children continue with an (unpreferred) activity. Once a time has been set, it will motivate the child and increase their efficiency since they know there's an end to the activity.


Allows children to understand the difference between

10 seconds vs 50 seconds,

2 minutes vs 10 minutes etc. This inherent sense of time allows them to plan and organise their time wisely.

Builds Sense of Time


Steps to use a timer

  1. State exactly the goal/target behaviour.

  2. Set timer to specified time When child is ready, press start

  3. For young learners, can place the timer in sight/leave it at the side

  4. Remind them regularly before timer ends.

  5. When timer ends, immediately remove the activity.




7.Keep neutral voice, explain why they may have failed, help them problem solve and try again by setting timer to 1 s to ring again.


7.Praise and reward them with preferred activity/snacks


  1. "You have 5 minutes play time on the Ipad, after that please give it to me."

  2. Set "5 min 00s" on timer

  3. When child has the ipad and sitting comfortably, press start

  4. Put in front of your child so they can see the countdown

  5. "2 minutes left...1 minute left...30s left..."

  6. "Okay, times up! Please give me the ipad."


Child doesn't give it back, or says 'No! I don't want to."

"When timer rings, that means it's time to stop. I want you to try again and give it back quietly. Let's try that again" (Reset the timer for few seconds so it rings. Then you may need to physically guide to help child hand over the ipad.)


Child gives the Ipad back:

"Great listening, you stopped when the timer rang! Let's play cars now."


Click here and follow instructions to download "Timer Poster"

Want more parenting tips? Check out other posts

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Praise shouldn't be misused or used excessively either, as it doesn't lead to effective results. Hence this post is all about 'How to Praise'.

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Many parents may use reprimands to deal with child's inappropriate behaviors, but would a child understand what is 'appropriate' with this strategy? 

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