Leaving assignments to the last minute can cause anxiety in anyone.

How to Make a Child Do Things in a Timely Manner Without Causing Anxiety

by Shellie Braeuner

Time might not be on your side when you're helping your crying child look for his lost shoe before the bus comes or trying to calm your 8-year-old who just remembered the science fair project that is due tomorrow. But according to a University of Pennsylvania study, the ability to manage time is a stronger indicator of your child’s future success than his IQ. Helping your child learn to manage time teaches her self-discipline.

Cut down on the number of activities your child is involved in to give him more free time. Between school, sports, music lessons and other activities, many children are just too busy. Even young children can find their days quickly filled by preschool, sports practices and play dates. Just like adults, when children feel crunched by time, they become anxious.

Make a schedule flip chart for older children. Ask the child to draw a clock face on a card for every time a new activity starts. Punch a hole in the upper left-hand corner of each card. Stack the cards in order from the beginning of the day to the end. Thread a binder or carabiner clip through the holes. As your child completes each task, she can flip the card to remind herself of what comes next. When your child knows what she is expected to do next, she can face her day with less anxiety.

Make a picture schedule for young children. Make a list of tasks you expect of your child such as rising, brushing her teeth and getting dressed. Take pictures of members of your family doing these tasks with a digital camera and print the pictures. Draw a simple clock face with the times she should begin each activity on index cards. Take a piece of posterboard and label it with your child’s name and picture. You may want to title the poster “John’s Schedule” and include a picture of your son’s smiling face. Place the clock cards next to the picture cards on the poster board. Place a self-adhesive hook dot on the back of each index card and picture. Place a self-adhesive loop dot on the corresponding spot on the poster board. Press the cards and pictures into place. Make new cards and pictures and rearrange them as your child’s schedule changes. Knowing what will happen next helps your child plan and gives him a sense of control, which can reduce anxiety.

Make a homework chart. Divide a piece of poster board into a chart with many horizontal lines and three columns using the ruler as a straight edge. The first column should be wide to accommodate the name of each assignment. The second column should list the date when the assignment is due and the last column receives a check when the child has completed the task. This visual reminder helps a child determine assignment due dates and quickly see what she has already accomplished.

Items you will need

  • Index cards
  • Hole punch
  • Ring or carabiner clip
  • Camera
  • Markers
  • Posterboard
  • Self-adhesive hook and loop dots
  • Ruler


  • Help your child plan ahead by laying out clothes the night before and keeping school materials in one place. Basic organization can help reduce the drama of anxious children.


  • If your child shows signs of intense anxiety or planning doesn't help, talk to your pediatrician.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images