The Magic Answer to Make Your Toddler Listen :: Timers

I live in a world of timers.

How long bath time is, how much longer we are staying at Granny’s, when we are going to pick-up, when we are going to head to bed, and how long until we put her favorite song in the car.

God bless this tool! I don’t know what possesses toddler to throw a fit if you give instructions, but adding a timer in there seems to sooth all wounds. What is it about this simple clock that enables toddlers to access their obedient alter ego? I have a theory.


As so many of us have learned, these rascals thrive on routines and schedules. It is what makes nap times such a blessing, and how we finally get those newborns to sleep through the night. Routines help give expectations on what comes next – how each need will be met with confidence.

I think when a toddler is met with the idea of a timer, a special part of their brain clicks. There is a realization and expectation that something is coming, and they can confidently prepare for that next moment. Whether it is good (we will watch you favorite TV show in 5 minutes) or ending a good time (you will need to tell your cousins bye in 5 minutes), their little psyche understands what they expect in a few moments time. There’s almost a sense of security this brings.

Honestly, it helps the adults too. Instead of massive meltdown after meltdown, it forces me to be patient and give grace to my toddler. It forces me to consider what her tiny brain is experiencing and computing and letting her know how I envision the next parts of our day.

It is a tool that is universal

I have been pleased to see that this tool has worked on other toddlers beside my own. After using this tactic one night at my friend’s house when my daughter did not want to leave – my friend saw instantly how she went home without a fess and started using it on her son. This may be the game changer your toddler needs.

Pick your favorite way for a countdown: old-school kitchen timer, timer on your phone or my daughter’s personal favorite – telling Siri on your apple watch to set one up. Watch what happens and report back! This could be exactly the secret answer in your back pocket to help conquer those toddler years.

Katie Templet
A kid at heart, Katie loves all things writing, Harry Potter and musicals. At any moment, she is down for either a cup of coffee or margarita. Her passions are building and improving her community of Lafayette, where she was born and raised, and teaching her one daughter to have a British accent. (Not so successful at that last part yet). She spends her day as a nonprofit ambassador, helping nonprofits amplify their mission and creating more social good.


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