We have been using digital countdown timer for time out as well as playground time for more than a year now and it works well, no more power struggling, arguments and nagging (most importantly). Imaging yourself asking a child to leave his favourite playground, from asking nicely to asking repeatedly, then giving warning to threatening to leave, trust me, some parents blow their top on the bad days. Actually, parents just want to tell them, “it’s time to leave” but are we sending the right message or are they recieving the message?
I’m sharing my method on how to get him out of the playground without struggling using a timer :
– Get him to set the timer, let him be the one who controls the time frame. (older child will have sense of controlling and he will learn to time himself)
– it has to be reasonable, within an acceptable time frame (if conflicts arrise, give options to prevent power struggling)
– don’t say no straight a way when he asks for 1 hour, explain. (again, use “options” to prevent power struggling)
– set the timer at the begining eg. before entering the playground or when you want him to leave
– before time is up, remind the child (you must prepare the child in advance to prevent major meltdown, if needed, repeat this step)
– once it beeps, get the child to come back to off it, or show it to your child (eye contact is very important for now)
I know, talk is cheap, anything can happen from now onwards, the child may follow and comply, or otherwise. But, be firm, try to Be firm and explain, at least right now, no one is the bad guy but the timer and who set it? kids learn to honour their words and not blaming parents for being mean because now we are using the third party to get him out from the playground as “it wasn’t me, you set the timer and it is beeping now. Let’s go.”
I often say,”remember to keep your promise and I’ll keep mine, be good and we will definitely come back (to the playground).”
like I’ve said, we’ve tried this method and it works well everytime! Now, we no longer need the digital timer but just verbal reminders.
Here is a sand timer, it caught his attention when we went to Daiso and he was fascinated by it. “I just like it, can I have it?” asked Asher. I was hesitated at first but gave in to his request. Back home, I saw him spending time looking at the sand passing through, is it a very calming thing to do? It may or may not has the calming effect for everyone but soon I realise it works for my angry child. You may think it is a total waste of time by staring it, nah, kids loves everything glittering.
To me, an angry child is like an angry adult, his ears are shut and his face is red, he may be scolding non-stop or isolate himself, mine will go on and on saying hurtful words, that moment, I just need something to distract him. Of course, he takes my verbal instructions (keep all nasty words to yourself and stay in your room, come back only when you’re feeling better.) but with sand timer, the time he takes to calm himself is a lot shorter. That’s right, sand timer is a simple time measurement, he knows his sand timer takes 5 minutes to complete one cycle and learns how long 5 minutes is. Conveniently, now this timer is also being used during “homework” and “meal time”. He knows how long he takes to complete his task and it kinda “motivate” him to “move faster”, I don’t rush him all the time but the timer gets him to “self compete”, he gets really excited and proud when he finishes the task before the cycle completes. I see myself using it in near future to time other activities/routine like get dressed/ready to school in the morning.
Besides the sand timer, we start using another tool for him – the Calm Down Jar, or Glittering Jar. I’m not sure if it is available in Singapore but it is easy to make one, all you need are bottle/jar, glitters, water and glue. I didn’t think of making this as my initial plan was to get him the liquid dripping thing like the sand timer but I couldnt find it, I went online to check and saw this Calm Down Jar and decided to make one ourselves. We made it together and I told him the purpose, he agreed to use it. Teachers at the new school are kind, they knew about his behavioural issues and they are all willing to help him, however, everyone was lost and shocked when he suddenly got upset and inconsolable on the second day of school, he dashed out of the room and wanted to leave school, teacher had a hard time comforting him and it took him very long to self regulate. I brought the jar to the school with him and he initiated use of the Calm Down Jar as a self-calming tool to his teacher, he even told them to keep it but hand it to him when he couldn’t control his anger. It is amazing to see my always-angry child tries to regulate himself and accepts ideas/helps from us.
At this point, it is still unknown if he has SPD or ASD, it doesn’t really matter to me, there are many successful people in the world with some incurable disorders, they are surviving, functioning in our society. Come what may, we will “fix it” together.