Why Every Child Needs a Timer


Why every child needs a timer

I firmly believe every child needs a timer (or 4 if you are my son).

During the early years, timers were a life saver for our family and helped us in parenting in many ways. If you would like help fostering good behavior while making parenting just a little bit easier, read on to see three ways our family has benefited from using timers.

Timers are an amazing tool that can help provide your child an increase in attention, minimize meltdowns while promoting good behavior, and increase independence.

Whether your child is 2 years old or 6 years old, here are three ways timers helped our family and could be your new best friend as a parent!  

Increase Attention

Now that we are back in school and settled into a routine, there is homework and of course the fighting to get it done.  

If you haven’t used a timer to help in this process, I highly suggest trying it. We all like to know there is light at the end of the tunnel, right? Give your child something tangible to know when he will be done or get a break. 

The concept of time is hard for kids to grasp. Using a timer increases attention by limiting the demands of the task and provides security knowing the homework will not last forever.

Maybe it’s 10 minutes of work and then a 5 minute break if your child is just zapped from the long day. For some children 30 minutes straight and then snack is enough motivation. 

Timers got us through many years of speech and occupational therapy. We would do three exercises and then take a 5-minute break.

Besides homework, try using timers to get in 20 minutes of reading every day, brushing teeth, or morning routine (you have 15 minutes to get dressed, make bed, etc.  Create a chart and make a game to see if your child can beat the clock and get faster each day of the week.

Simple kitchen timers work the best and assist older kiddos with gaining the concept of time. Here are a few: Digital Timer Learning Resource, Basic Countdown Timer, Manual Incremental Timer

Minimizing Meltdowns While Promoting Good Behavior

In our earlier years, having a child who had major anxiety created some major meltdowns when it was time to transition because of fear of what was coming next. Using timers, especially one that my son could hold and take with him, provided a sense of security but also a non-verbal signal that was routine and a safe sound of what was next to come.  

We used timers along with first-then models (Check out this sight for creating your own story board or first-then chart) for our transitions throughout the day.

Life was so much easier when my kiddo was not fearful or resistant to the changing day!

Use timers for time-outs (these Sensory Timers help calm and stimulate during a calm down time), electronic time, or sharing toys between siblings. 

We also used ours for eating. When you have a kiddo who can’t sit still for two seconds and practically knocks drinks over every meal we started using a timer for sitting during meals and it worked wonders, allowing the focus to be on food not movement.

If you have little children or kids who can’t quite grasp the concept of time, try one of these visual timers that provide a visual tool as the time counts down. Two popular ones are the Red Visual Timer or the Time Tracker

Increases Independence

One of the best reasons to use timers is they take all our verbal cues out of the equation and allow the child to have independence by thinking they control the situation. Our children constantly hear us and our voices become monotonous, which leads to them losing attention and not listening.

If you’re like me and have a child who is so strong-willed and independent that they always want control of the situation, timers are a great option. They provide independence for the child while not losing control as a parent.

Timers are a wonderful way for you to manage a situation while your child feels independent by starting and stopping their own actions with the help of a signal. 

Does anyone else use a timer with their kids? I would love to hear your success stories or thoughts on how you use timers with your child!


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