Is your child’s dawdling making you late for work? While your whole morning routine might benefit from an overhaul, today we’ll just focus on a few ideas to help you get your tot in motion.
Lead, Don’t Push
Do you urge your child from behind? Not sure? It looks like this:
"Hey, it’s time to get dressed" (and you’re in your PJ’s)
"Come on, it’s time to get in the car" (and you are still looking for misplaced keys)
Your child knows you are not completely ready to go, so why should they be? In fact, they find that you’re pushing and urging is rather bossy and coercive. This invites the child’s "resistive response", better known to us as dawdling.
Dawdling is the behavioural expression of the verbal expression "you can’t make me", and it is resistive power at its finest.
I suggest that instead of pushing try to lead by keeping your focus on yourself and what you should be doing instead of being overly concerned with what others need to be doing and trying to control them.
You’ll find that for ever action you make to hurry them, they have an equal and opposite reaction to NOT be hurried.
True power comes in deciding what you will do!
Here’s how a morning may unfold:
Parent: "It’s getting dressed time"
Tip: This statement simply informs your child of where in the morning routine people are. It is not coercive as "get dressed" can be.
"If you’d like to get dressed now, I’ll stay and help or keep you company. But if not, then I’ll see you for breakfast. You decide."
Tip: If they keep dawdling they are showing you that they are choosing not to get dressed, so you can leave the room.
When____ Then ____ Statement
When your tot comes to find where the heck you went (since dawdling doesn’t work without an audience) and they see that you are eating breakfast you can let them know:
"When you are dressed then I’ll know you’re ready for breakfast."
Let Routines be the Boss
Make a set time that breakfast is available, say from 8:00am to 8:30am. After 8:30 am, no more breakfast, the kitchen is closed till lunch. It is a parent’s job to serve healthy meals and snacks. It is the child’s job to get in line with the family order.
Apply a Natural Consequence
The natural consequence for not eating is being hungry. Nature does the teaching by creating hunger pains. A child only need miss breakfast once or twice before they learn to move themselves in ways that get them to the table dressed the next time. A few missed meals and discomfort will go a long way in saving you from the mental scars of screaming at your child all morning long.
Tip: It is the experience of the consequence that teachers the child, not the threat of a consequence. They need to experience hunger so they can decide that they don’t like it!