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How to get kids to listen (The calm way)

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They scream ‘’NOOOOO!’’ 

The blood is pulsing through your veins as you close your eyes and try to control your anger; overwhelmed, and at the brink of explosion. Before you even knew what would come next, it happened. You raise your voice ‘’THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE!’’ Everything erupts into chaos but your child won’t listen. It is far from the positive parenting you’ve daydreamed about since childhood.

When raising kids you become overwhelmed, your behaviour chart may have turned into a decoration on the wall. Whatever you were doing before, isn’t working anymore or you need more advice…

You needed professional advice. I got your back. With years of supporting parents and as a qualified early childhood educator, my solution got every child to listen. It promoted positive parenting solutions that help with positive behaviour and support your parenting style. Whether you are struggling with bedtime routines, sharing, timeouts, constant bickering, or have a strong-willed child. I can help you.

1. Teaching them to share and take turns

Now, it’s a simple concept to implement calmly.


  • Take note that this is what happens BEFORE you give them the toys to play with.
  • Pick a sand timer depending on the activity. For example; A 5-minute timer if it’s taking turns with toy cars or a 30-minute sand timer if it’s taking turns on the iPad.  

Step 1: Show them a sand timer.

Step 2: Make sure you have eye contact with your child and you are speaking at their level and then say ‘’When the timer finishes then it’s your turn.’’ 

Step 3: Place the timer at a level where they can see  it but will not be knocked over to its side.

Step 4: Keep an eye on the timer and remind them when it’s time to share or take turns. Once this is done a few times, the child/children will be able to use the sand timer independently. They’ll begin to resolve their own conflicts. No shouting, No frustration, No hitting – just CALM, CONCRETE SOLUTIONS

2. Solving the never-ending arguments


  • Do not let them protest and speak at the same time, tell them to stop. 
  • Remain calm and hand the sand timer over to the child who looks the most frustrated (This is to avoid any impulsive hitting or shouting. They need to get their emotions out using their voice) 
  • Use a 2 or 3 minutes sand timer to give them time to speak.

Step 1: SET THE RULES Tell them when they are holding the timer they can talk about their side of the story and they are not allowed to interrupt the other. 

Step 2: Let them air out both sides of their story using the sand timer to take turns.

Step 3: Ask them what they think the solution is or help them find the solution

Step 4: Have them all agree on the solution and if they don’t they can walk away from each other until they cool down.

Tip: Be the mediator and make sure they do not interrupt the other when talking if they are likely to hit or get out of control, you can have them do this from a safe distance.

3. Solving bedtime Routines 


  • Make sure you have a designated bedtime e.g: 7 pm
  • Try and get a set routine in place. E.G: Brush teeth, bedtime story, and then sleep.
  • Start the sand timer just before getting into bed. The best timer to use is a 15-minute timer.

Step 1: Give the warning ‘’I am putting on the timer, when the timer finishes its bedtime.

Step 2: Allow them time to do a self chosen activity. E.g: Play or read a book as the timer goes on.

Step 3: When the timer is set do not give into arguments, tantrums etc… Let them get it out of their system and calmly repeat: When the timer is finished it’s time for bed.

Step 4: Put them into bed.


  • Be consistent
  • Try to use the timer for other activities so they get used to the concept
  •  Do not have screen time 30 minutes before bed as the blue light makes it difficult for children to fall asleep

4. Getting them to listen

The sand timer can be used in a range of situations and circumstances. 

For example: 

  • Helping them wait for you to complete a task.
  • Helping them sit down to do an activity they dislike. ‘’We will only do this for X amount of minutes.’’ 
  • Helping them know how long a task might take.
  • Helping them understand the concept of time! 
  • Teaches them independence and conflict resolution skills

Research Articles and supporting evidences:

Play_A_Tool_for_Cognitive_Development.pdf (

A child’s eye view (

Tough Times – Clare Beswick, Sally Featherstone

5. The Research – Why does it work!? 

The thing is, time is an abstract concept and is usually one of the hardest things to teach a child. It is because you cannot see time move and children find it very hard to know the difference between 5 minutes and 1 hour. This is where the tantrum begins. The sheer unfairness. Children think what you are doing is unfair so they seek justice. They don’t know how long it will take for another child to finish playing with a toy. 

The sand timer helps bring structure to the world of children. It helps them understand time because they know that once the last grain hits the bottom it’s their turn. You’re not being unfair, you’re being fair. Although they may protest slightly they know they have that justice. 

Which sand timer would I recommend? 

Now, I’ve used it many times before and I know it’s good quality. We’ve been using this specific brand for 3 years. They’ve lasted around 78 children between the ages of 4 and 5. These are excellent as they have survived being dropping on the floor; drowning in the water tray and being hit by a sandstorm in the sand tray. The durability is impressive so I would recommend  the Kids Timer Hourglass Set

I hope this blog post helps your child on their learning journey! If you want to be notified about more blogs like this. Place your email in the subscription box below and leave a comment if you want me to review any other homeschool resources.

How To Teach My Child is a place where a parent is just another title for a newly qualified teacher (NQT). Write to you soon fellow NQT’s! Wait, you’re not an NQT? Well, join our school by subscribing to the ”How To Teach My Child” Youtube channel or follow us on instagram. What does it mean to be an NQT? It means we are all together in this journey of improving our teaching skills. Join us as we make ”Teaching simple”.



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  1. Asmaa says:

    Brilliant post! Thank you! You are the absolutely right, children don’t understand the concept of time. The timer is the best technique, I’ve been using it for my little one and he doesn’t fight me at the park anymore when I say it is time to go, when I finish bedtime story and the timer goes off, he knows it’s time to sleep! With the timer, I feel like he finds it fair and won’t argue with me or throw tantrums. I will definitely get these sand timers so he can actually see it moving!

    1. Nana says:

      What a marvelous example of positive parenting and discipline! I’m so glad this parenting method has made a positive impact on your child. It’s heartwarming to know that sharing these parenting tips are proving beneficial!

  2. Kawthar says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post. So many ways to use something as simple as a timer. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us. Thank you!

    1. You’re welcome! It is a REALLY effective approach! I had to share and I will keep sharing in the future. Thank you!

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