The Secrets Of Understanding Your Child's Concept Of Time

Time is an abstract concept; a societal construct. Children grasp the notion of time in their own way: Through routines and everyday events. Think lunchtime, playtime, or a scheduled big thing that happens several weeks later. But what is the exact science behind a child’s awareness of time?
baby with time
Time-telling is difficult for young children because time has to do with memory. Our brain does not only measure time but it also has a way of remembering and registering how much it has passed. In other words, our brain creates an ‘internal body clock’ based on memories. The part of our brain that is in charge of this body clock is also the part where memories are stored. When we are taking longer than our usual 10 minutes in the shower, this part of the brain will trigger a dull sense of urgency as it is constantly tracking what we do. As a child’s brain may not reach full maturation capacity yet, his or her memory capabilities may not be fully developed and may not have the ability to perceive time the way adults can, causing the child to be unaware of time passing.
girls playing time
There is an element also of predicting the future; something that a child is not equipped to deal with. As adults, we are aware of our actions because we plan ahead and make decisions based on consequences that we predict. Children, on the other hand, live in the moment. They are constantly experiencing and processing new things, feelings and sensations. The brain can at once be stimulated by sight, smell, taste and touch, and have too much information to process. Hence, having a routine where things have a pattern keeps things predictable and less chaotic for children.
mum and daughter time
Children by the age of 7 generally begin to gain more sophisticated ways of telling time. This is because at this stage, children are likely to have acquired the verbal language needed to express time explicitly (the same way as adults do). They also master counting and are able to make judgements that will continue to improve.
By understanding the child’s development with regards to the concept of time, parents can now better manage the way they communicate with their children. Don’t be frustrated when your 4-year-old doesn’t keep his toys in 5 minutes, it is just not time yet!
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