Creative Child

Speed Up the Dawdler

by Sarah Lyons


Get up earlier

For those children who need a little extra time, simply rising earlier in the morning may give them the time they need to keep on task. “My daughter needs time to wake up and adjust to a new day. So we just had to start getting up earlier.” says Daniale Lakin of Omaha, NE. For other families, if the parents are able to wake up earlier and get themselves ready and prepared for the day, the whole family has a more relaxed morning because there are fewer people who need to get ready at the same time.

Face the consequences

Even the most prepared family is sometimes late. Older children who tend to dawdle may benefit from facing the natural consequences that go along with being late or forgetful. “After years of arguments, I decided to put the ball in their court. If they are not prepared or punctual then the day they suffer the consequences the school gives.” says Jessica Bright-Schaben, mother of three. “If they forget homework or to charge devices, they may have to stay after school. Tardies get them benched at games.” Teaching children that if they are late, they may face consequences or miss out on something helps them become responsible for how they manage their time. “They could block out my nagging, but when they couldn’t play or attend practice because of detention, they picked up the pace immediately.” says Bright-Schaben.

A dawdler can slow the whole family down or make them late. Try to encourage your child to prepare as much as possible the night before and get to bed on time. Kids who get a good night sleep have better focus the next day. If dawdling continues, let them face the natural consequences of their pokey pace. While some of us tend to move slower than others, especially in the morning, teaching your child these skills will help them manage their mornings.

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What Not to Do

  • Lose your temper - Try to remain calm, yelling and nagging will only train them to tune you out.
  • Overuse phrases such as “Hurry up!” - Telling your child to “hurry” usually does not speed them up at all. Try setting a timer for each task or giving them specific instructions.
  • Set a bad example - Are you an adult dawdler? If you tell your child it’s time to go and then stop to check your email, use the restroom, and grab one more thing, you are modeling that dawdling is the norm.
  • Give vague instructions - Instead of “Get ready to go.” try “Put your shoes and socks on right now.” or “It’s time to get in the car.” Kids need to know exactly what they are supposed to be doing at that moment.

Sarah Lyons is a stay at home wife and mother of six children, including 18 month old triplets. Using creative consequences with her kids has improved their behavior and encourages healthy relationships with each other.

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