Teaching the Concept of Time

Kiki knows how to tell time.  She worked on this here and there since school started, (as in 1st grade, not last month!) and really gets it now.  In fact, she recently earned the coveted "Shopping with Papa for a Watch of my Own" event.  This is sweet – my dad, who is sort of a watch fanatic (he owns dozens, he loves anything mechanical) started buying each of the grandkids their very own "grown-up" watch as soon as they showed him they could tell time.  I have learned, however, that being able to know what time it is doesn’t mean an understanding of how time works.  Kiki drives me crazy on this – probably because she is too much like me.  She is a "dinker"…she dinks with this, dinks with that, doesn’t seem to get what it means when I say "please, hurry, we need to leave here in ____ minutes."  It’s this vague concept that doesn’t connect in her real world.  I say "brush your teeth and put your shoes on"…then I go brush mine or whatever, and when I check back, she’s doing heaven knows what, but you can bet it’s not related to teeth or shoes.    She can be in her bedroom for 10 minutes, then come out and say "I don’t know what to wear."  So I grit my teeth and say "okay, let’s go back to your bedroom and I’ll help you pick something out"….then la la lala la we are walking ever-so-slowly back across the house like we are on a stroll in the park – even tho I said "come on we should be leaving in 5 minutes!!"  Arrgghhh!  Don’t tell me things like "Give yourselves more time" she’ll just waste more time, or "Pick her clothes out the night before" something will be wrong with it by morning….actually, mornings aren’t the worst.  It’s even harder if we’ve done our school in the morning, then I say "Let’s get ready now so we can go to the bank" (or wherever)…something that should take 30 minutes can turn into for-ev-er.  I haven’t figured out how to deal with this.  I know I have the same tendencies, I have just learned to quelch it over years of needing to be places on time.  But because I am this way, I guess I just don’t know how to teach her better methods?  Is this normal?  At what age does the concept kick in?

10 responses »

  1. These are very good questions…and you\’d think that I would know the answer since I have an 18 year old & a 14 year old, but my 8 year old is the EXACT same way.  I experienced nearly the exact same scenerio not 2 days ago.  I said to him as he\’s watching cartoons, "I\’m getting my shoes on & we have to go, so go get yourself ready"….5 minutes later, I\’m on MY way out the door, he\’s still in his jammies watching cartoons….and doesn\’t even know where his shoes are!  Ok, long story short (haha), yes, I believe this is normal for their age….and I only wish I could remember when they outgrow it!  Hang in there.

  2. As a prompt person myself, I have been teaching my kids the importance of being on time. With Amber, whenever she takes too long in the morning, I tell her, it\’s up to you if you want a tardy at school. We\’re not leaving until you\’ve done everything. It\’s your responsibility to be on time. With something like going to the bank or to church, I would say to Kiki, "You have five minutes to put your shoes on. If you don\’t have your shoes on by then, we\’re leaving with no shoes on (or slippers or something)." Don\’t do this in the middle of winter, obviously, but she should get the point that if she doesn\’t do it, then there will be unpleasant consequences!
    Another thing I have done is make a list for mornings. She checks off everything she has done (eat breakfast, brush teeth, pack your backpack, etc.). It has actually been empowering for her and has taken the onus off me for reminding her to do every little thing. If she\’s dawdling, I just say, "Have you finished everything on your list?" and then she books it to the next chore. However, she being the child of a prompt person, it might come more naturally to her than it will to Kiki — but give it a try!

  3. One more tip … try using a timer. It will help her to understand what 5 minutes feels like, and it might be more motivating than nagging.

  4. Having 11 year old twins, some thing I did when they were little was to frame time in something they felt like they knew…" we need to leave in the time it takes to watch one Blues Clues" (which will work if you watch those things, but you\’ll have to find something else she intuitively "knows" if you don\’t).
    I find my problems usually happen because I\’ve gotten them doing something and then I say "OK, we need to go in 10 minutes."  So they dutifully drop everything they are doing (literally) and rush to get ready and we\’re out the door, leaving the mess behind or school supplies out on the kitchen table, or something else left undone.  "But mom, I didn\’t "____________" because you told me to go feed the pets (or whatever).  So then, I\’m their excuse.
    I\’ve also gotten into the sad situation of havng to be my son\’s brain… he can\’t seem to remember to put on deoderant or brush his teeth or clean up after making his lunch… I didn\’t know you wanted me to do that.  Must I tell you to breath, too?
    Good luck, wish I could say it gets better, but I\’m betting that won\’t happen until they move out on their own and actually mess up.
    Tammy  🙂 🙂 🙂

  5. Ok, my boys will tell you that this is cruel and unusual punishment.  First I tried using a timer in the boys\’ bedrooms in the morning to get them moving.  I posted schedules in their rooms in a certain order, so that the routine was the same every single day of school.  We had contests on who could get ready fastest, which of course caused huge fights.  Then I offered them Yu-Gi-Oh cards each day they got out to the van, on time, with everything completed.  They fought over who drew the best card.  Finally one day I had had it.  I felt like I was going to have a stroke.  Any moment blood was going to seep out of my eyes, nose, mouth and ears if those rotten boys didn\’t get their carcasses out to the van.  I took  clothes and coats and put them in the van and started the van to warm it up.  We don\’t have a garage, so the van was right out in front of the house, in the driveway.  When it was the designated time for us to leave for school, I ordered them out of the house in their underwear and barefoot.  It had snowed and I was ordering them to walk out front, through the snow like the meanest, nastiest drill sergeant in the world.  Devon was yelling, "Child abuse! Help!" at the top of his lungs.  As we drove to the school, I told them they had better be dressed when I pulled up, or they would be shoved out of the van naked.  They scrambled to get ready.  From that day on, they at least got dressed before it was time to leave! Still, many times they had to skip brushing their teeth or eating breakfast to get to school on time.  Tell Kiki that she is lucky to have a NICE mom!

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