Time Relativity – Toddler Style

Einstein theorised that time is relative. Over my time off work i got curious about his perception of time, and how he is ‘measuring’ it. We have yet to start teaching him to read a clock, or to understand ‘what’ time is. But he has certainly developed a sense of time. This is more through a mix of his odd word associations, our daily routine, and of course, his loathing of the dreaded bed time. Or, ‘sleepy time’. Note, sleepy time will be getting it’s own post…. 🙂

I started thinking about how and why he associates different time measurements on words he recognises. Why a minute could be an hour, and why soon could be a year. Much to the disdain of my partner, i do love to stir him up by using certain words… Highly amusing i think.

So i had some time, and thought i would delve a little deeper into a toddlers perception of time. As suspected, we are not the only ones that come across this funny behaviour. Anyway, i thought i would share some toddler time relativity with you.

1. Soon
‘NOT SOON!!!!’ is generally the response. Funny, i thought soon meant, umm, soon? I started thinking, why does he dislike soon so much. Well, it makes sense i think. Generally, when one of us say ‘soon’, it is either because getting out of bed at 4am to play cars is not going to happen. So, to the toddler brain, he is associating ‘soon’ with a long time, hours, perhaps a day. Who knows.

2. In a little bit
‘Ok, in a little bit.’ Somehow, a little bit, is totally different to soon. I can say soon, get him to stir up, then say in a little bit, which makes things ok again. I am still pondering this one i must say. I think that perhaps the word ‘little’ is something he recognises as being small. With some quick toddler time calculations, this must mean a short period of time. I think…?

I intend to begin teaching him the clock over the next month or so. Not too sure where to start, i am thinking we will start with bed time, lunch time and 6/12 o’clock. If you have gone through this process, I’d love to hear your ideas, please leave a comment. 🙂

These are just a couple, how does your toddler identify time?



  1. This is def a topic that comes up all the time in my house. My oldest (4) will ask how long until something (dessert, bed time, iPad time, his little brothers bed time) and Ill replay back with 5 minutes, 10 minutes ect ect and he always says ‘but how long is that?’ I never know how to answer him! if its 20-30 minutes then I can say as long as an episode of Wild Kratts or something, but yeah. Its a hard one. I think he may be old enough to try to explain clocks/months/years. Ill have to give it a whirl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol, question for the ages right. We were actually speaking about it last night. We are going to get a big analogue clock and put up some paper plates with different times on them. ie – bedtime, lunchtime etc and then write the digital equivalent there too. See how that goes for a start. Our toddler knows his numbers pretty well, fingers crossed we get some progress. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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