Children who misbehave often do so because they see it as an option more fun than the good behaviour their parents are trying to teach them. To combat this, parents can work to make good behaviour fun. One great way to turn good behaviour into a game is to play ‘beat the clock’ with children who hesitate to act appropriately.
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Discussing Good Behaviour with Kids
Kids need to understand that while it can be fun to engage in good behaviour, good behaviour is not a game. Parents should explain that even when they are not playing ‘beat the clock’ good behaviour is still expected. Children may become confused about what is expected of them when they are not obviously playing ‘beat the clock’, so parents should take care to remind their kids that even when they are not playing, and that even when parents are not around, good behaviour is still expected of them.
Playing Beat the Clock
‘Beat the clock’ is a relatively simple game that is usually embraced by children. It is a way for parents to time their children when performing a certain task, such as making their bed, getting dressed or picking up their toys. Because they are being timed, children must hurry to get the task done as quickly as possible. For obvious reasons this is a great game to play with children who dawdle, get side-tracked or don’t show any enthusiasm for a specific chore.
Beat the Clock Rules
‘Beat the clock’ is not a game that should be played with every child for every task. Instead, parents should decide which one or two tasks they think their child most needs help with. At a time of day when it is best for the child, for example when (s)he is not sleepy or hungry, parents can decide to play a spur of the moment version of the game. Using an egg timer is usually a good idea for time keeping as children can hear it, see it and will know when it rings that their time is up. If parents keep time, for example on their watch or on a clock that their children can not read, then the children may dispute the time-keeping.
When a parent is ready to play beat the clock, (s)he should consider the child’s ‘best time’ for a specific chore and then tack on five minutes. This will create a period of time in which completing the task is not difficult, so the child’s chances of beating the clock are greatly increased.
Winning Beat the Clock
Children win ‘beat the clock’ when they complete the task before their time runs out. The more children win, the better they feel about their own abilities to complete that task. While children do not need a prize or reward each time they win ‘beat the clock’, parents should be lavish with their praise. This praise, however, should not be about winning the game but rather completing the chore. Saying things like “Look at how clean this room is! You pick up your toys so well!” or “Your bed looks lovely! You make your bed so nicely!” will help to reiterate to the child that they are good at the task and that completing the task is a good idea.
‘Beat the clock’ is just one way of turning good behaviour into a game. Parents whose children dawdle, get side-tracked or show little enthusiasm for good behaviour should consider playing a game such as ‘beat the clock’ to help speed their children along.