Recently, I started allowing my daughter to visit a friend of hers in the neighborhood on her own (i.e. without me walking her there and coming to take her home). My biggest fear was one of safety, so we had a serious discussion about how she would get there and back (e.g. on the grass versus the road, check both ways before crossing the street, etc.). I knew that this was an opportunity for her to practice the safety skills I had taught her, but what I didn’t realize until later, was just how good a lesson in time management this was going to be for my daughter. We started out by determining the time that she should be home. Since she was going to be fully responsible for getting home at the agreed upon time, she was going to have to wear her watch and consult it regularly. If she was going to be late, she was to call (note: I didn’t want to encourage tardiness, so I let her know that this should be the exception, not the rule). I also made it clear that she should never break any safety rules in an effort to get home in time (safety is always more important that punctuality). The first time, she was a little late because she hadn’t factored in the time it would take to clean up. This was a perfect ‘teachable moment’ – she learned that she needed to stop playing in time to clean up (she also learned that cleaning up always takes longer than you think it will). She ended up going back to her friend’s house later to apologize and to finish putting things away (her idea, although I probably would have insisted on it anyway). She also learned that she needed to factor in the time it would take her to get “dressed” (especially in the winter) and get home (i.e. travel time). In very basic terms, this is the ‘calculation’ she should be doing each time she goes to a friend’s house.
Time To Be Home – Travel Time – Time Required To Clean Up = Time To Stop Playing
It’s taken some practice, but she has gotten the hang of it and is rarely late. Let’s face it, time management is a life skill that our kids will use for the rest of their lives, so the sooner we teach it, the better (with everybody’s busy lives these days, you pretty much have to be a time management wizard to work it all in)! Do your kids make it home when they say they will or do they always have an excuse? If they are late, what is the consequence? Please share in the Comments below. If you are serious about teaching your kids to take responsibility for themselves, you may also enjoy my posts on Good Study Habits, Hand Hygiene and Goal-Setting.