No matter how hard you try to teach them, some children are simply unable to manage time. It’s not that they don’t want to be on time or that they enjoy not being prepared for their classes and other responsibilities. Unfortunately, their physiology is such that time management will likely always be an issue. Learning how to manage time-blindness is a critical part of working with these children and helping them become more successful adults.
What is Time-Blindness?
Time-blindness is a consistent inability to stay aware of time and use it well. Many people with time-blindness–which is often linked to ADHD–fail to realize that they’re wasting time in the moment. It simply slips through their fingers, leaving them wondering where they failed to take care of their necessary tasks for the day, finish vital activities on time, or even make it to the bus stop when they’re supposed to!
Unlike simply being late, time-blindness is the inability to recognize time as a concrete, linear thing. Individuals, especially children, who are time-blind may not be able to concretely recognize that an hour will only last for an hour no matter what they do with it. Children may struggle with the ability to go to bed on time without multiple reminders or may struggle to complete chores or homework in a timely manner. It’s not being lazy or getting distracted; children who are time-blind may literally fail to notice that time is passing!
How Do You Manage Time-Blindness?
As a parent, you don’t want your child to be the one who constantly slips in a few minutes late to class because they spent too long in the bathroom or who consistently turns in assignments late. Unfortunately, managing these simple struggles with a time-blind child is more difficult than most. Time management strategies that work with children who are able to perceive time as its linear, progressive self simply don’t work well for children who are time-blind. By changing the way you help your child manage time, however, you can help them be more successful.
Try going analog. Digital watches and clocks fail to quantify time in a way that makes sense to an individual who is time-blind. They can look down and see the numbers–and even interpret them–but those numbers fail to break down into blocks that actually make sense in their minds. Analog clocks, on the other hand, may both be easier to read and make it easier for your child to view the progressive amount of time going by.
Know what activities your child is most likely to “get lost” in. For many individuals who are time-blind, there are some activities that they’re more likely to get lost in than others, losing the passage of time and leaving them struggling to make up the difference. This may include video games, television, or time on a smartphone or tablet, but those aren’t the only activities that your child can get lost in. Find those critical triggers for your child, then shape rules that will help them manage their time more effectively. For example, you might insist that the smartphone has to stay off until homework is complete, or that video games can only be played after chores are done on the weekends.
Find ways to mark the passage of time. For people with ADHD and time-blindness, keeping track of how time is passing isn’t automatic. Your child may actually not realize that they’ve spent hours on a task! Find ways to mark the passage of time: set reminder alarms, use a watch that beeps on the hour, or allow your child to keep their phone in front of them with the clock in place. Simply marking the passage of time on a regular basis can make it easier to track and manage time as it’s used.
Break down big tasks into smaller ones. People who struggle with time-blindness may also struggle to break down big tasks into small ones that make sense to their minds and are easy to tackle. Break down tasks into manageable pieces to make it easier to move through those times.
Create triggers for the next event. “At 7:00, we have dinner; so at 6:45, you should go wash your hands and get ready for the meal.” “At 5:00, you need to sit down and work on your homework. By 5:30, you should have your math done and be ready to tackle that English report.” Setting these specific deadlines–complete with triggers that will help your child note when the necessary time arrives–will make it easier for your child to manage time-blindness and make it through daily tasks. As the parent, you may find that you need to be the trigger for your child on a regular basis: remind them that time is passing or that it’s time to move on to the next part of a task. This may never be intuitive for them, but repeated reminders can make it easier!
Change how you approach time. If your child knows that they need to be in bed by 9:30 on a school night, they may not start thinking about bedtime until 9:30. Changing the way they view that time, on the other hand–saying that they need to start getting ready for bed at 9:15, for example–can make it easier for them to navigate that simple task.
Managing time-blindness in your child is an ongoing challenge. If you need a school where your child will be encouraged to work to their full potential and learn how to handle this common issue, contact us. We have an amazing, supportive environment where your child will be able to learn how to manage time more effectively even though this simple task fails to be intuitive.