1. Making Time for Time Management

    Time management is an important life skill, and the earlier you can teach it to your kids, the better. Proper time management not only leads to better academic performance, it lets your kids free up time to do whatever they want, which reduces stress. But when and how do you start teaching your kids about managing time?

    Kids 10 - 13 years old typically have a basic understand of timing and deadlines. This is also around when academics and other activities can really start to pile on, overwhelming many kids, so it’s a good idea to start teaching time management before things get really hectic at school or at home. If you’re looking for a good time of year to teach time management, try teaching them around summer, the end of a school vacation, or any other generally slow time when they can devote some extra capacity to the project of time management.

    Ask your child to split up their upcoming deadlines and events into have-to-do and want-to-do tasks. Have-to-dos will be things like math homework or soccer practice, while want-to-dos will be things like playing video games or chatting with friends on the phone. This teaches them to prioritize.

    Once tasks and times have been divided, the more difficult part begins: making a schedule. Making a schedule can be tricky because it can be hard to determine how much time is needed nightly for a long-term project. A heavy load of homework one night can throw off the whole rest of the week’s schedule. Let your child know these are just estimates and they can always adjust things as they go. As time goes on, they should have a better idea of how long a given task will actually take. It helps to overestimate how much time a task will take, especially in the beginning. Any surplus time becomes time for want-to-do tasks.

    It’s important to get your child into the habit of constantly updating and adjusting their schedule. If they have a smartphone or tablet, make sure they’re using the calendar function, but if not, invest in a simple paper calendar for them. This makes it easier to keep track of due dates and social obligations so they’ll never miss a beat. One might think that keeping track of play dates is excessive, but it’s just as valid a way to learn time management as scheduling math homework.      

    Time management habits carry through kids’ college years and into their adult life. People with good time management skills experience less stress than their disorganized peers, because they find they actually have the time to relax. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?


  2. Teaching Kids Punctuality

    You’ve been tapping your foot all morning. “We’re going to be late!” you announce, but your daughter keeps primping her hair, your son starts another round of foosball with his little brother, and none of them have brushed their teeth yet. If this sounds like your household in the morning, it’s time to talk to your kids about punctuality. As kids get older, there will be more and more situations where they’ll need to show up at a certain place at a certain time. These tips will make sure they show up on time.

    First, make sure you’re on time yourself. If you’re ever late, don’t make excuses. Explain that your lateness was inexcusable, that it showed selfishness and a lack of respect. This kind of profuse apology might seem like overkill, but trust us: your kids will remember every time you were ever late – in vivid detail – if you start nagging them about punctuality.

    Nagging is no good. Try buying them a watch instead. Both analog and digital watches have their benefits: digital is easier to read; analog is easier to get a sense of how time passes. The sooner kids can tell time, the sooner you can hold them accountable for being on time.  

    The next step is to schedule one event at a very specific time every day: dinner, for example. If kids know they absolutely must show up for dinner at 6:00 PM – or no dessert – they’ll learn pretty quickly how to keep track of their time. Try not to call out “Almost dinner time!” at 5:55 either; let kids figure it out independently.  

    For older kids, more drastic measures may be necessary. If they’re persistently late, and their excuses are getting more and more implausible, it might be a deeper issue. Be sure to talk seriously with your kid about how their lateness makes you feel, and also try to discern whether it’s symptomatic of a deeper lack of respect. Without being confrontational, ask them exactly what they were doing that prevented them from being on time. If they answer honestly, they’ll realize that the things they were doing were probably not worth being late – and disrespecting you – over. If they can admit this, they’ll be less likely to be late again.

    Like most things you teach your kids, positive reinforcement is also a good trick to get results. Try adding up the minutes when kids are early, and doling out treats based on these amounts. Or, let’s say your kids want to go to a really hyped-up concert. Show them how you have to be early to get the best tickets: take them with you when you stand on line, and be sure to bring snacks and entertainment for the long wait. When concert time rolls around, and you’re all living it up in the front row, your kids will realize that sometimes punctuality…rocks!