Saturday, December 14, 2019

Interview: Goodtimer

Goodtimer is an educational toy backed by neuroscience and endorsed by child-development experts. Goodtimer encourages children ages 3 to 10 to form good habits using positivity, tangible incentives and family participation.

“Parents often get stuck finding solutions to challenges with their children’s behavior that work for their specific family needs,” says Goodtimer founder Adam Ashley. “Goodtimer was created to help parents achieve a more peaceful home and connected family by incorporating positive parenting methods into an innovative product that is easy, effective and fun for the whole family.”

Goodtimer was developed to motivate children to form good habits by encouraging them to consistently make good choices in a way that is opposite to timeouts that punish unwanted behaviors.

First, a family establishes their house rules. Then, when children make good choices by following the house rules, they begin earning Good Time by turning the device right-side up. When enough Good Time has been earned, the device dispenses physical tokens children can collect and save to exchange for incentives decided by their family. For details on how Goodtimer works click here.

Each Goodtimer includes a children’s book “The Clockmaker’s Creation” that tells Goodtimer’s charming back story and explains how the device works. Goodtimer also includes a charging cable, 32 reusable tokens, a plush token pouch, customer support and exclusive access to positive parenting resources.

Why was Goodtimer created?
Goodtimer was created to help families like ours bring peace to their homes through positive parenting.  When our children were first born it was tough, but being a parent was all about just keeping them alive – making sure they were eating, sleeping and going to their regular doctors’ appointments. Around the time our kids turned two, we realized it was also our job to start teaching them good habits and address the temper tantrums and power struggles. 

At first, when our kids misbehaved, we wanted to make sure there were "consequences,” after all, our parents grounded us when we misbehaved, and we turned out okay...right?  After a lot of trial and error, we were frustrated to learn that yelling and putting our kids in timeout didn’t work, and at the end of the day we hated feeling like the "bad guys.” Like many frustrated parents, we turned to the experts. Through our research we discovered Positive Parenting, which leading experts recognize as the most healthy and effective method to improve child behavior. We started using positive parenting methods in our home, but we couldn’t find an approach that was easy to incorporate into our routine and one that our kids were excited about. As a consumer products expert and inventor I knew there had to be a better way.  

We asked the question, “What if we created a game for the whole family where our kids could win at making good choices?" Another way we thought about it was, what if there was an effective tool that would motivate good behavior in a way that is opposite to a "timeout" punishing unwanted behavior? We developed a concept for a game that encouraged and measured “Good Time” and was engaging for young kids that would light up and make positive sounds when they demonstrated desired behaviors and dispensing physical tokens, they could exchange for the things they really wanted.
Why is positive reinforcement often more effective than punishment?
This question reminds me of a favorite quote about positive parenting by Pam Leo. “You can’t teach children to behave better by making them feel worse. When children feel better, they behave better.”

There is a ton of great research the compares the effectiveness of positive and negative reinforcement. This article from the American Psychological Association (APA) does a good job of summarizing some of these findings. We’ve read a lot about Positive Psychology and Positive Parenting and identified the following three criteria for methods that achieve the best results.  Children learn best when they 1. understand expectations, 2. can keep them top of mind and 3. receive consistent positive reinforcement when they make good choices. Goodtimer is a tool that does these things really well, and that’s why it’s effective at encouraging kids to form good habits that last. Furthermore, when we respond negatively to undesired behaviors by yelling or punishing, our children are more likely to continue to do the things we don’t want them to do.  In other words, kids are more likely to repeat the behaviors that we give attention to.  The Resources tab of our website and our Facebook page have a bunch of really great resources on Positive Parenting as well as FAQs, tips and tricks for how families can incorporate Goodtimer into their routines to get the results they are looking for.  

What makes Goodtimer particularly easy to use?
When we set out to create Goodtimer, we wanted to make it extremely easy to use thinking about how a child as young as three years old would interact with it. That’s why we developed and patented the concept of a visual timer that can be paused and un-paused simply by turning it over. We know most young children can’t understand the concept of keeping track of time on an analogue or digital clock, so we developed a cylindrical dome shape with 12 glowing segments that turn on one-by-one, clearly showing them how much “Good Time” they’ve earned. Goodtimer also provides audio feedback throughout the day to encourage them as they go.  

Finally, we realize that each family has unique values, so we wanted to create a system that was based on proven Positive Parenting best practices while still offering families opportunities to customize Goodtimer for their own needs. Our solution was a charming, educational and instructional children’s book the whole family reads together to learn about Goodtimer’s back story, how it works and how they can use it with their family to get the results they’re working toward. The book takes only six minutes to read and has two simple, yet powerful, worksheets allowing the family to create their own house rules and token-incentive system to motivate their kids. With the simple, interactive device and the fun-to-read children’s book, families can start earning “Good Time” and forming good habits right away!  One Goodtimer “expert” explains how his family uses Goodtimer in the video at the top of the Resources section of our website. 
How can parents transition their kids into doing good behaviors without Goodtimer as they get older?
That was our original goal, but when we started testing Goodtimer we found something really interesting. First, let me start by saying that since Goodtimer was just launched there haven’t been any long-term studies performed. However, we did a lot of customer discovery as we were developing Goodtimer, and when we talked about the idea of a product that helps kids learn good habits, parents kept telling us that they wanted to get it, address the “problem” behavior and then not have to use it anymore.  Starting in 2017, we began testing early Goodtimer prototypes with families, and we learned that in practice Goodtimer does just that.  However, a family may purchase Goodtimer to address a problem with a “picky eater,” and it works to help them address this issue, but then as their child reaches a new development milestone, they have a new issue that pops up and so they continue to use Goodtimer.  This has been my own experience with my two boys. I started developing the concept of Goodtimer when they were four and eight years old. Now my boys are eight and 12, and, honestly, they don’t need their Goodtimers anymore, but we still use them because they’re fun for the whole family, easy to use and the kids like earning and exchanging tokens. It’s our family’s approach to an “allowance,” and as our kids get older and reach new developmental milestones, it’s great to have a system that we can use to encourage them to continue to make healthy choices and form new good habits.  Recently, we performed another round of consumer trials with 27 families and the Williams family was kind enough to open their home and allow us to document their Goodtimer Story.  You can view the Williams family’s story here on our website.  To hear what Goodtimer families are saying about their experiences, please view this short video on our YouTube channel.   

About Plus Up LLC
Plus Up LLC was founded in 2017 to help families bring home peace and encourage good habits that last. Plus Up is committed to providing positive reinforcement solutions to open-minded families who strive for real connection. The company’s first patented product Goodtimer is an educational toy backed by neuroscience that encourages children to form good habits using positivity, tangible incentives and family participation. To learn more visit

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