Tip of the Week: TIMERS
Timers can be used for the following reasons: (1) to ease transitions (2) to stay on task (3) to tolerate non-preferred activities (4) to promote independence.
Let your child know how much time they have with a preferred activity before having to transition. Set the timer and remind your child as time is nearing the end while referencing the timer (e.g. “one minute left and then it’s time to clean up”). If they respond to the timer by stopping the preferred activity and moving on, provide reinforcement.
Staying on Task:
Show your child how much time they have with a certain activity. For example, if you are going to have them color, set the timer so that they know how much time they have to stay focused on this activity.
Tolerating Non-Preferred Activities:
Help your child to try non-preferred or less preferred activities with the use of a timer. Set the timer for short amounts of time at first and gradually increase the time as they start to tolerate it more. The timer will help to remind them that the activity will end. Give reminders while referencing the timer to help ease any anxiety (e.g. “only 1 more minute, you can do it!”) Provide reinforcement after staying on task for that period of time.
By using a timer, your child can learn to terminate one activity, clean up and move on to the next. In the beginning when using a timer, when the timer goes off, prompt him/her to stop the timer and clean up. Then, provide reinforcement. After doing this a number of times, your child will understand the purpose of the timer and will begin to stop it and clean up on their own.
**Here is a link with 20 visual timers (many of which are apps you can quickly download). Also, there is a sale on physical timers here if you are interested. My personal favorite is the time timer as it is a clear visual to show the passage of time, but there are many options**