3 December 2009 11:25 AM

Punctual Kids

by rbavaria

Nothing shows disrespect for others more than habitual lateness. No one likes to be on the receiving end of it.  Teachers spend untold hours every year being interrupted by students coming late to class, distracting other students, and disturbing lessons.  Parents wait – sometimes patiently, sometimes not so much – as their children hare around the house looking for lost supplies and belongings.  How to teach your kids to be respectful to others by being punctual?


Here are a few tips.


  1. Be a good role model.  When it comes to punctuality, teach it, preach it, and live it.  Show children that you value precious time and you expect them to value it, too.  When someone keeps them waiting repeatedly, point out to them how annoying it is, especially if they’ve put forth extra effort to be on time.  (While you’re at it, you can teach forgiveness, too.  The occasional emergency does, after all, happen in our insanely hectic world.  People who overuse this excuse are to be seen for the phonies and laggards they are.  Shun them.)

  2. Teach about time.  Kids need to be taught about time, just as they need to be taught to read, write, and compute.  Teach kids about real-time by making a game out of it.  Estimate how much time it takes to get ready in the morning, to drive to the grocery store, to brush teeth, how long the commercials will last (fair warning, this will infuriate you), or how long a favorite song is.  Avoid confusion by setting all the clocks in the house to the same time – none of that setting one clock early to make you hurry.  (Who falls for that, anyway?)  For kids, use analog clocks with second hands so they can “see” time passing.

  3. Establish good time habits.  Show kids how much time they can save when they have their clothes and homework set out the night before.  Don’t allow “snooze alarms.”  (I know, I know, this is difficult.)  Instead, teach kids to get up when it’s time to get up.  If you start them early enough, it’ll become a no-big-thing routine.  I’m an “army brat,” growing up in a military family where I learned the Five Minute Rule – “If you’re not five minutes early, you’re late!”  It’s served me well over the years.  (I also learned to make a bed so tight you can spin a quarter on it, but that’s another army-brat story.)

  4. Show how to organize.  Organization reduces stress and hassles.  It makes life easier.  What’s not to like?  It’s the first step in time management.  Let kids see how efficient it is to keep a planner, to have their work areas organized, to have routines.  Show them how you organize your busy life both at work and at home and how you rely on others to be respectfully punctual.  We’re all in this together!

  5. Make punctuality a goal. With your child, make punctuality a home and school goal.  Talk about why it’s important to her, to her family, to her teachers, to her classmates.  Write the goal down and monitor her progress.  Renew the goal every so often, daily if necessary.  Agree on some reasonable rewards for continuous success (some extra time before bedtime on weekends, say) and reasonable consequences for continuous neglect (no texting for an evening).

  6. Show how punctuality is a value.  When you teach your child punctuality, you’re showing him that respect for others is one of your family’s values.  It goes along with other values like politeness, reason, fairness, going to church or temple , lifelong learning, and all the other beliefs you hold dear and want to impart to him.

  7. Monitor your own habits.  Every teacher has had to put many a lesson on hold, forcing punctual kids to wait for one “tardy” one, when – it must be said – the “fault” really lay with the parent.  Kids are not shy about saying, “My mom overslept again!”  Plus, we see you driving away in your bathrobe.  If your own bad habits are affecting your child’s education, for heaven’s sake, isn’t it time you reform?

  8. Be positive.  If you don’t start early, teaching punctuality can be challenging.  If you’ve waited until your child is a teenager, you’ll be tempted to give up all hope.  Don’t.  Keep fighting the good fight, and show that you’re not about to give up on him.  This is far too valuable a life skill.  You’re a happy warrior, and he might as well surrender to your heroic efforts.  Best bet: start early.  Very early.


Punctual parents, have any tips for us?  Share your ideas, comments, and suggestions by  clicking on “Comments” below.




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