How to Introduce a Toddler Clock.
Lately I have been hearing a lot of moms say “ I tried a toddler clock and it didn’t work”. In this house we LOVE our toddler clocks y kids love their clocks. My 7 year old still loves the clock and finds it simpler to understand than a conventional clock. We have one in each of the children’s rooms. This tool, however, is not a magical sleep-in solution it takes work to integrate it into your toddler or young child’s life. So I thought it would be important to talk about ways to use a toddler clock so that your child learns to sleep better.
Here are some key things to keep in mind when introducing your clock:
1) Make sure your child is developmentally ready for it. It is a tricky concept for a young toddler to understand so you want to make sure your child is able to follow directions without regular prompting before you introduce the clock. If you try it and don’t see any success or respect for the clock wait and try again. Usually kids are ready around 2.5-3 years old.
2) Talk about good sleep. Explain why you are introducing the clock and what the different elements of the clock are all about. For example, the Gro Clock has stars that disappear showing the passing of time.
3) Teach your children terms and language associated with the clock. My children often say “good night to the sun” before going to bed and when morning rolls around they say “my sun is awake” knowing that the sun on their clock dictates their routine vs the sun outside.
4) Make the clock off limits. Although many toddler clocks have a lock feature – kids are smart and figure out how to turn the clock off, or change the time on the clock. When you introduce the clock set it up on a way that you ensure your kids know they can’t touch the clock.
5) Turn the back light down. We keep ours on the lowest setting so that it does not send a bright light out into their room.
6) Set realistic expectations for your child and for yourself. If you have a toddler who has been waking at 5am its not realistic to set your clock for 7am. You want your child to experience success early on so start with small intervals working towards a nice middle ground for your wake up time.
7) Be consistent – just a few times of you saying – oh its ok that your sun isn’t up – you can get up anyway, will encourage your child to not respect their clock. Your consistency with getting your child to wait for it to be OK to wake is what will send that clear message to your child to follow the lead of the clock.
8) Look for a clock with a nap time feature as well. We have ours set for night time sleep and also use the clock to let my daughter know when it is ok to come out of her room at the end of nap time/quiet time.
9) Praise them for following the lead of the clock. Let them know you are proud of them for waiting until the clock said it was time to get up, especially on days when you hear them playing quietly in their room waiting for that moment.
If you continue to have issues with early morning wake ups please see my blog with tips and tricks on dealing with early risers.
As a final tip, take the time to make sure your clock is set properly. Over the Christmas holidays on a few occasions we rushed to put my son down and set our clock for night mode and not daytime mode. He would wake and wait so patiently for his sun to wake up and after a while would loose patience or I would go in and question why the clock hadn’t changed. This caused him to loose confidence in the clock. Now over a month later he still worries that the “sun won’t wake up” when I put him down for his nap. Take the extra couple of seconds to make sure you do it properly so your kids don’t loose confidence in this great little tool.