Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A matter of timing

Parents need to help children to develop a concept and appreciation for time early in life

By Rachel Goodchild

A CHILD isn’t born understanding the concept of time; it is something they need to be taught. One of the problems a child has when it comes to learning about time is the different messages they are given. Many times parents tell a child to do something, while they do the complete opposite.

It is relatively easy to say to a child that when the big hand reaches a number and the small one reaches another number they have to be ready because they will be going out. It is harder for the child to understand how long it is between the present time and the future time.

Also don’t expect them to be ready, and then have to wait for the parent who is always late. It will not help them to understand the importance of time, and being on time. They will think: “Is there a good reason why I should be on time, when my parents are not?”

You need to ensure that you practice what you preach to your children. If you tell them to be ready by a certain time, then you also need to be ready by the same time.

If you take 15 minutes as an example, it is hard to explain how long that is to a child. Getting them to sit down or be quiet for 15 minutes may seem to them like a lifetime. Sit down yourself and see if you can be quiet for 15 minutes and how long that feels like. You might be surprised at the difference between what you think is 15 minutes and what is really 15 minutes.

Staying with the idea of 15 minutes, find a task they can do which will take exactly 15 minutes. As they do this task, they will learn how long this period really is. They will also learn how much they can do in those 15 minutes. Reading to a child for a quarter of an hour is another way for them to start to understand time.

But, the important part of this training will be showing the child how important time really is.

In the adult world everything we do is time oriented. We have a time to be at work, and a time to leave work. We have a time to cook a meal, a time when our favourite programme is on television, and even a time for our social calendar.

Can you imagine what it is like a child who hasn’t learnt about time, to be told dinner will be ready in 5 minutes? Well, you know how long 5 minutes is, but do they understand that they only have a few minutes left to play with their toys, and then be at the dinner table? Possibly not, and then the parents gets angry because the child isn’t sitting at the table when the meal is ready.

A child is told what to do, but they need to learn about time, and not just how to tell the time. They need to learn how important time is for everything they do. This is something a parent has to understand well, before they start to teach their children the concept of time.

The art of parenting
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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