Teaching Kids Time Management

The difference between managing your time poorly and well is the difference between reacting to events in your day and planning for them.

Children spend their entire days reacting to our prompts to do things: our “gentle reminders” to get up, get dressed, get in the car, pack up their things, get ready for soccer practice, do their homework, and go to bed. Giving them the means to plan their day allows them to practice time management skills. If we give them a chance to take control of their lives, they can demonstrate what they are capable of, to us and themselves. When people feel capable and responsible, they are happy and self-assured. The bottom line: kids are less defiant, disagreeable, and generally cantankerous when we aren’t constantly bossing them around. And so are their parents.

  • Time Timer is great for teaching and managing time (see the pic above). You can get it as an app, or buy a real Time Timer!
  • Post a calendar in a visible area of the home (kitchen) for all family members to see. Schedules are usually in our heads or on our phones, but this is one thing that children need to see to develop an understanding of time and schedules.
  • Let children develop their own schedules and work with them to decide when you AND they think they could complete homework and household responsibilities (chores).
  • Scheduling responsibilities makes it more likely that necessary tasks will get done with less nagging. When those jobs are accomplished on time or ahead of schedule, then the time left is for privileges (the activities that children want most to engage in), which have now been earned.
  • Teach your children to make lists of things they need and want to do.
  • Help your children identify “time wasters.” We know what the big ones are; consider holding off on TV or other devices until after necessary tasks are done. It’s easier to postpone our attention to them than it is to put them down.
  • Spend at least five minutes in the morning, over breakfast or in the car, discussing how the day will go in a positive way.

Lastly, be aware of your own challenges with time management, especially engaging in time wasters (social media?). Above all, kids learn most from what they see their role models doing.  Use them as a mirror to reflect your own time management, and you’ll all come out ahead.