Clock technique: An excellent resource for working on children’s behavior

Raising a child is one of the most difficult challenges parents have to face. Children do not come with an instruction manual under their arms, so it is often necessary to use instinct and patience to shape children’s behavior from an early age.

However, although there are no shortcuts or magic formulas to guide educational guidelines, there are some tools that can not only help you to work on the behavior of your children but also to improve family dynamics. The clock technique is one of those resources.

clock technique for child behavior

What is the clock technique? The benefits for child development

Designed to correct children’s behavior, the clock technique focuses on training different daily activities. Basically, the technique focuses on promoting the performance of certain tasks with the aim of teaching children to organize themselves better and focus their attention on a single activity. In fact, it is a simple strategy for them to learn positive behavior patterns and gain responsibility as they grow.

However, the truth is that this technique goes far beyond behavioral education. It is also an excellent resource for promoting children’s concentration and stimulating self-control from an early age. When applied correctly, this technique is an ideal tool to enhance the development of logical thinking, promote time awareness, and train working memory.

It is worth noting that the technique is recommended for children under 8 years of age since it is much more effective during early childhood, when habits and behavioral patterns are still being formed.

However, that does not mean that this tool cannot be used at other ages. If older children lack good organization, have poor self-control, or find it difficult to take responsibility, the clock technique can help them to be more disciplined in their daily lives and to focus on the highest priority tasks of their day to day.

How to apply the three-step clock technique?

Including the clock technique in family dynamics is very simple, but it is important to apply it well if you want to obtain good results.

The first step is to explain to the little ones at home, in simple and easy-to-understand language, what the technique consists of, how it is implemented and what benefits it will bring them. In this way, children will feel more involved and will strive to complete each step of the technique. Once the little ones are ready:

three step clock technique

1. Choose the activity to do

One of the fundamental steps of the clock technique is to choose the activities to work on. Ideally, start with simple tasks that do not require too many skills and are easy to perform so that children learn how the technique works.

For example, you can start with tasks like picking up toys, making the bed, setting the table, or picking up dry leaves from the garden. To make the process easier, start with one task at a time. As they gain skills, you can increase the number of activities and their complexity.

2. Simplify the task in steps

Reducing the different activities into simpler tasks not only allows children to automate the process but also to simplify it. The idea is to identify the different steps that are needed to complete each action, so that it can be done in parts.

For example, to collect the toys, you must open the box, drawer or closet where they are going to be stored and then take each toy to its storage place. Obviously, the more complex the activity, the more steps will have to be defined.

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3. Define time limits

Finally, and the most important step in the clock technique, is to establish time limits for each activity. That will be the time that the children will have to carry out the different tasks.

Obviously, it must be adapted to the complexity of the activity and the level of child development since while a 5-year-old may need 15 minutes to pick up his toys, an 8-year-old can get it in 5 minutes.

At least at the beginning, it is recommended not to be too strict with time and leave a margin so that the little ones do not feel so pressured. As they gain technical skills, the time frame can be shortened to improve their organizational skills.

What should you keep in mind when applying the clock technique?

To be successful with the clock technique it is not enough to follow all the steps, it is also important to motivate children during the process.

Whether with a motivating phrase like “You can do it”, inspiring background music or a few simple applause, urge the little ones at home to do their best to achieve it. Thus, you will not only give them an extra energy, but you will also prevent them from getting frustrated and losing the desire to try halfway through.

Another strategy to make the technique work and to get children involved in the process is to use extrinsic elements such as a stopwatch, a clock alarm or an hourglass to measure the time of each activity.

In this way, the little ones will have another motivational factor to put their maximum effort into the task they carry out. In the long run, it will not only help them meet their short-term goals, but it will also teach them to find new, more effective forms of organization.


Finally, keep in mind that the sooner you start applying the technique, the better the results will be since you will be teaching children to organize and gain responsibility from an early age.

Of course, as children grow it will be necessary to adapt the technique to their level of maturity because although the little ones need more external stimuli, in older children it is important to focus more on self-control and the development of problem-solving strategies really effective.