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How to teach your child 'Time Management'

Time Management skills can enhance productivity in children. It can make them responsible and more efficient. Allow your children the opportunity to be themselves, let them fall and stand up and steady themselves. Show them tricks to meet challenges head-on.

I was on the sidewalk, chatting with friends when I heard a mother shout at her son, "You said you'll be home at 7:30, look at the time, it's going to be nine. You have no sense of responsibility…" blah blah blah, her voice faded away, as mother and son walked towards the podium, leading to the apartments.

I couldn't withhold my smile, for the mother, like most mothers, had grossly exaggerated the time (it was just about half-past eight) and like many mothers, she hadn't given a damn that her son had been embarrassed at being shouted at in public.

I joked about the incident when my daughter called the next day. And her response had me thinking. That's how most Indian parents are, she said. They don't teach their children these little aspects of life and expect them to learn on their own. What she said was true. I asked if she had felt this way when she was growing up, to which she replied, "No ma, kuch bhi". I heaved a sigh of relief, I hadn't failed her as a mother, not on this count. We went on to discuss the little things that I would make her do, as a kid, and which she said have stood her in good stead.

As a child, my daughter was a sprightly little thing, with her hands, feet and mind into a hundred things. As parents, we encouraged whatever she wanted to do, without enforcing restrictions on her. But, this meant that she had to her manage time well. And, she needed help doing it. I began inculcating time management lessons in her pretty early in life.

Understanding Time Management

When you hear of 'Time Management', the first impression that comes to mind is perhaps sitting through a workshop on how to enhance managerial skills or something to that effect. But, time management is essential in every walk of life, even as a kid.

It is a common scenario today, to see children juggling school and extracurriculars. They are always running against time, to get things done. Sometimes, I hear kids talking about their list of activities sounding like something out of a CEO's appointment diary.

After a while, some kids begin feeling the strain of all the juggling – become dejected and give up their activities. Parents do not realise it, but all this can cause long-term implications, affecting confidence and creativity.

Time is a fixed unit

Time is a fixed unit, you cannot expand it, no matter how you try. You have to make do with the time available to you. And this is where time management skills can help. Managing time is an art that can be perfected through practice and discipline. It is a skill that is intentionally imbibed.

Multi-taskers are the best example of good time management skills. The art is not inherently present in them, they work at making it an integral part of them. Similarly, children need to conquer this art and they can do so only when they are made proactively involved. You can give your kid an extra edge by showing them the tricks to juggle their time well. Soon, these practices will become second nature to them. Expose them to life-hacks that will teach them to face whatever life throws at them.

You teach them how to take the baby steps, they'll learn to leap on their own. Try these tricks, they should help –

Allow them to be in control and accountable

Stop smothering your kids with the pampering and the attention, and the doing everything for them bit. It is unnecessary and will only increase their dependence on you and slow down their growth. Kids must be allowed to be in control of their lives.

Small initiatives can go a long way. Let's take the homework as an example, you don't have to help them do it, help them understand if they have difficulties, but let them do the final work on their own. Help them get organized, with a timetable, where they can schedule time for studies, time for play, time for reading and so on and so forth. Your job is to ensure that they don't slacken up on it.

You'll enjoy several benefits, in the process. You want to have to keep reminding them to complete their homework. The children will become independent and responsible and develop oodles of confidence. They will be happy and content little humans, who'll be proud of managing small, but significant aspects of their lives.

Make a list of things to do

Management is about having everything under control. And this is where a to-do list is helpful. It is much the lists that you probably make – a list of things to buy, a list of bill payment schedules etc.

I had a cork board in my daughter's room, where we'd display her drawings etc. I use part of the board as a calendar that listed important things that were scheduled for the day/week. It served as a reminder of tasks that had to be completed. Such as World Environment Day Project or an essay competition or the upcoming unit tests. And, we'd put a smiley face for each task that was completed.

Soon she began maintaining the calendar on her own. I'd stand aside and applaud each task completed. As she grew older, the cork board was replaced with an actual calendar, where she used colour codes to categorise things – urgent, important, deadline etc. She used humour and artistic skills on the calendar – symbols like fire, a clock hanging by the noose, Zzzzzs, briefcase etc.

Each symbol meant something, for instance, the briefcase was to remind her to get dad to do something – printing or binding of papers. What happened was that she created her own way of scheduling things and managing her time. It made her responsible for herself. There were rarely any incidents of delay or mismanagement because of poor planning.

Don't be a nag

Mothers can become overly obsessed with their children completing pending tasks. In this case too, don't be a nag, a termagant; give your child the space to set a pattern. Be realistic about your demands, your child will not become a time management pro in a jiffy. It takes time, it takes persistence, it takes discipline and it takes dedication.

Everything doesn't have to work with military precision but ensure that the jobs get completed. Guide them from the wings, notice the shortcomings and help set them right. Show the child how to break down tasks into small doable segments. Complete one segment at a time, it puts less pressure on the child and augments a sense of achievement. That in turn, becomes a source of motivation.

Have the child be part of the scheduling of tasks, it creates a sense of responsibility in them. They are more likely to complete something that way. But, as I mentioned earlier, setting the pace will take time. Don't be driven by your meticulous nature, observe the child and offer inputs when required. Maintain that 'belief' in your child, it encourages them.

Teach a systematic approach

A systematic approach involves that things be done in an orderly manner. Homemakers usually keep all the spices in their kitchen in one place, similarly toiletries are stocked in one cabinet in the bathroom, shoes are placed in the shoe rack, expensive clothes meant for special occasions are kept separately. There is a pattern in all this.

Let your child learn the same pattern. Everything should be in its place, so there is no wastage of time looking for things. Let the toys be in a dedicated place and the school books on the study table…you know the drill. Provide space where they can keep their things – tables, cupboards, cardboard cartons. Learning to organise basic necessities in a methodical manner is the central component of time economics. This is a habit-forming technique, watch your child, effortlessly transform into an organised person.

Set rules

Cartoon network, video games, television and the internet and smartphones are a big distraction that can become addictive. I know it's tempting to let your child watch/play something, to keep them out of your hair, but really, do you realize the implications.

Your child will be a child only for so long, use the time you have them teaching them habits that they can carry with them. Restrict the screen time, and use the time more productively.

Explore & learn new things

Children have boundless energy and enthusiasm, use it meaningfully and tap these resources well. You can help them inculcate good habits, such as reading or pursuing a hobby. Get them involved with causes. The environment is a good place to begin.

They grow up to be socially conscious and proactive individuals, who know the good from the bad.

Nutrition, physical exercise & rest

Skip those Maggi lunchboxes, instead pack wholesome foods. Your children need all the right nutrition to help them cope with the physical and mental strain that they go through.

Physical exercise is a must. Let them be out in the open, get some fresh air and sun. Let them cycle, swim, play a sport, just get them to move those limbs.

Sleep – younger children get enough, but it is the older children who can become sleep deprived. Rest is essential for the body and the brain to recuperate, so ensure your child gets proper sleep, even in the midst of all the chaos.

Sleep improves concentration and boosts productivity. A well-rested body and brain are more alert. Let your child have a good night's sleep.

In conclusion

Do not underestimate your child; every child has great potential, it's parents who fail to recognize it or channelize it in the correct direction. Don't allow your fears to stunt their growth. Don't limit them, instead teach them to behave responsibly. Teach them things, but let them learn on their own too, and let them learn to be responsible for their actions.

It is a harsh world out there, and someday your child will be facing it alone. You need to prepare them for it. You need to teach them to be independent, responsible and tough.

My daughter left home for University when she was barely 17 and has been away since. She came home mostly during semester breaks, and long weekends. She began working in another city, soon after graduation and the visits became less frequent. She went on to intern overseas and followed it with an MBA at one of the top universities, in the world, at a young age of 24, becoming the youngest, in a class of 173. She is currently employed, in a foreign land, but I don't worry, for I know the grounding she has, will help her ride through the rough seas.

Go ahead, teach your kids the right skills, let them realize their strengths and abilities. I hope this inspires you to take a step forward, in making your children independent and responsible. If you liked reading this, share it with others and don't forget to post your comments.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 609 articles authored by Juana

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Author: Neeru Bhatt07 Aug 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

Time management is the most important aspect in our life and it is the sole factor making our lives comfortable and orderly.

The children are to be taught this management since early age otherwise once they are habituated of certain traits they will be trapped there and never understand the value of time.

Author: dipti08 Aug 2018 Member Level: Silver   Points : 1

This article has words of wisdom comes straight from a mother's heart and full of life's teaching. It speaks directly to the audience - a mother who has the most important role to play in a child's early years. What a child learns in her developmental years is going to define the quality of her life later. Her decisions and habits are reflective of the learnings of her childhood.

Here the author has sportingly shared all that she observed in her daughter's growing years and shared the learnings with others to benefit from her knowledge. It's a wonderful article on inculcating lifelong time management habits in a child. Very well written as well.

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