"I hate the battle I have every morning with my toddler while trying to get him to turn off the TV, put on his coat and boots, and get out the door. I can’t be late for work and I just get angrier until I blow up. I always end up feeling terrible about how I handled things. Any suggestions?"
Most parents deal with this type of dawdling the same way – by nagging, threatening and lecturing: "let’s go" "come on – we’re late" "we don’t have any more time" "look, I’ve had it, I can’t be late, and you are making me angry" " I’m leaving without you."
"After all is said and done, a lot more will be said than done." – Unknown
Would you be willing to give up the expectation that your children should blindly obey your commands, and instead look for ways to stimulate their motivation to be co-operative?
Here’s one way…
Tool – Offer Choice
Mom: "It’s time to go – can you turn off the TV on your own or do you need help?
[Tip: Given a choice of them or you – toddlers usually choose doing things for themselves.]
Child: (ignores mom)
Mom: "I see you need help" (mom turns off the TV)
[Tip: The child’s behaviour expresses their choice – NOT their words.]
Child: I wanted to turn it off!!!
Parent: That time has come and gone, you can choose differently next time
[Tip: Children will go back on their choices and pull your chain – don’t let them succeed. They will learn to choose what they want the FIRST time if that’s all that is put forth.]
Child: But I wanted to!
Parent: I am sorry you’re disappointed with your decision. Now it’s time for coats.
Child: NO! I’m not putting it on!!!
Parent: You need a coat with you. Would you like to wear it or carry it in a bag? You decide.
Parents: "No coat" is not a choice. Would you like to decide or should I?
Parent: Looks like you’d like me to decide – let’s put it in a bag and head to the car.
Child: No! I am not going.
Parent: Yeah, I hear that you don’t want to, but sadly, its time to go now . Can you walk to the car on your own or do you need help?
Child: I’m not going!
Parent: I see you need help, I can carry you then (picking up child).
Child: Put me down!
Parent: Oh – I see you’d like to manage on your own – that’s great! Let’s go.
TTFT (Take time for training)
This will all be new to you and your child. You will need to repeat this scenario again and again while your child is learning about making good choices for themselves.
Things Get Worse Before They Get Better
Typically with change, things get worse before they get better! Hang in there. You may get tantrums (ignore them) instead of dawdling for the first bit. It means a big upfront effort in order to gain mornings of PEACE for ever after. It’s well worth it.
Keep a Firm and Friendly Attitude
Don’t let you emotions take control of the situation.