Time????? What is time??????


The understanding of time or temporal concepts is something that children develop as they mature. As a parent, we often try to manage behaviour by telling children how much time they have to accomplish a task. For example, “you have 5 minutes to be ready for the bus”. When you tell 5 year olds that they have 5 minutes you might as well tell them that they have 5 hours.  It really doesn’t mean anything to them. The concept of time is so abstract, that 5 and 6 year old children find it difficult to grasp. No wonder the preschoolers are confused.

A few years ago, someone invented a clock for children who had difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. This is quite typical of children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder or language comprehension difficulties.  Due to the abstract nature of time, even the 5 minute warning of “get ready for gym we line up in 5 minutes” would come as a shock and the children were surprised that a change was happening. Often with surprises like this comes a behavioural response which is undesirable.

I call this clock the “disappearing time clock” and have used it for years in my sessions working with children. You set the clock for 30 minutes and the 30 minutes are displayed in a block of red. As the time is used up, the red disappears accordingly. It has been such a valuable tool. If I have a child working on something challenging or too long, immediately I will find them “clock watching” as in “how much more of this do I have to endure?” That is my cue to change it up.  Or the child will ask for a certain game to practise their speech with and I will look at the clock.  They’ve picked a 20 minute game and we only have 10 minutes left. My response is……”the clock says no”. “The clock says we don’t have time for that game”. In 39 years, no one has ever argued with the clock. It gets me off the hook as the bad guy and the session proceeds in a positive manner.

I have had families purchase this clock to organize their 4 children to be ready for the school bus in the morning; get to the dinner table on time; go to bed without resistance etc. It makes time concrete for them and thus easier to understand. When you understand what is happening you are much less likely to see defiant behaviour.

As a disclaimer, I have no financial interest in the selling of these clocks or advertising for families to purchase them. This is a solid resource which has benefitted many families and professionals.  You can find it at superduperinc.com.