Dear Teen Parenting Coach

Q: How Can I Teach My Teen to “See” Time?

Overscheduled teens have a lot to keep track of – due dates, extracurricular activities, and social lives. But, that’s no excuse for handing work in late. Here, learn the tools to help kids manage it all… themselves.

Q: Between balancing soccer practice, school dances, and a complicated class schedule, my 13-year-old daughter loses track of where she is supposed to be, when. What tools will help her manage her precious after-school hours wisely, and efficiently complete assignments for multiple teachers before she’s even busier in high school?
Maryland Mama

Hi MarylandMama:

I could write a whole book about teens and time management (and I did!). This subject is so critical to a child’s success at school and after she graduates.  We have a saying at Order Out Of Chaos, “Time management is a life skill that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. But it can be learned.”   So where to start? Begin with these three tips.

  1. Use a timer. Timers can help a teen with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) self-monitor AND keep track of time. For example, place a timer on your daughter’s desk while she does homework. It can help her know exactly where the time is going and how long a math worksheet is taking her to complete. 
  1. Hang analog clocks in each room of your house that your daughter uses regularly – including the bathroom. The hands of an analog clock allow her to “see” time move, which helps her understand the duration of a task and how much time she has before moving to another activity. In other words, she will start to understand that it always takes more than “just 2 minutes,” and build a true time sense.If your child can’t “see” how she is spending her time then she can’t be expected to know how to “manage” it.  Which brings me to my next tip.
  1. Use a proper academic planner. A proper academic planner helps students visualize what’s ahead to enable them to plan for and manage what they need to do and when they have the time to do it. In other words, they need to see the whole picture.Remember all planners are NOT created equally. For a planner to truly be effective, it needs to be set up in a grid system so they can see their WHOLE week at a glance. It also needs to include space to enter after-school and weekend commitments.  This is the KEY ingredient in planning time to get assignments done.  Once they enter all their activities and commitments, both scheduled and available blocks of time will naturally appear. Your daughter can now use those available blocks of time to plan her weekly workload, facilitating weekly time management and planning strategies.

    Our favorite is the Academic Planner: A Tool For Time Management. Head to for more info.

[How to Convince Your Teen to (Actually) Use a Planner]

And if you want more tips like these, check out my book, What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management for entire chapters devoted to this subject!

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The opinions and suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.