Using a Timer to Decrease Problem Behavior During Transition

Using a Timer to Decrease Problem Behavior During Transition

Another step that help with smooth transitions is the use of Timer. Timer is a great tool for transitions from one activity to another. It can reduce problem behavior, increasing compliance, cooperation, task completion and can be used in multiple ways.

For instance, if you know that lunch will be ready in 30 minutes and your child is playing a favorite Robot game, you can set the timer to 20 minutes. As you are setting the timer say to your child, when this timer goes off, it is time to turn off the TV and come to the table for lunch. This increases predictability and accountability for parents, caregivers, and children and give the child a clear explanation of what is expected of him/her for time to work on a specific task.

Homework or Learning Activity: For instance, during homework time, work on a learning activity/ task or when a younger child needs to sit quietly for any given reason set the timer for five minutes. Tell your child when the timer goes off in 5 minutes, if you have worked the entire 5 minutes, you can take a break and do….After the break, redirect your child back to the homework or learning activity and set the timer for another 5 or 10 minutes. Praise your child for hard work following each ten minutes increment. As soon as you see your child becoming distracted, reset the timer to the original time and prompt them to work until the timer sounds.

Waiting: it is a great way to teach your child wait time. Set the timer for the time your child must wait and let him/her know that when the timer goes off, the wait will be over. It is recommended that you set the initial wait time to a time that your child can successfully wait, even if that time is only 30 seconds. Overtime increase the amount of time that the child must wait. Remember to praise your child for successfully and quietly waiting.

However, there is no “quick fix”. What works for a particular child may not work for another. Ensure you understand your child’s strength, motivation, learning, behavior, or level of attention and adapt to meet his specific need.

Remember, the timer only works effectively if it is used consistently. It can also be used for transition warnings. If the child must transition from a task to one he/she does not like but need to, the timer will assist him/her in understanding how much time is left until it is time to engage in the new task.

Using a timer will prevent the power struggle that sometimes occurs between the child and the mother. The child should be told the time rang, so it is time to…then the child should be praised for transitioning to the new task.