Tips & Resources

Dealing With Dawdling:

Dawdling is one of the most frustrating conflicts between parents and children. Why? Because kids love to daydream and take their time. Parents need to be on time, to be efficient and do things in a hurry. Unlike children, we can juggle more than one thing at a time, while children can immerse themselves completely in the moment. The result: daily power struggles that no one wins.

Don't assume that kids are dawdling just to drive you crazy (even if that's the way it sometimes feels). Distinguish between what is intentional-when they're delaying and holding up progress on purpose to annoy you-and what comes naturally to children. Remember, most kids can't even tell time until they're beyond kindergarten, so they have no sense of urgency.

Count the number of times between 7 and 8 A.M that you say "hurry up," "come on," "stop dawdling," and "get a move on." I'm sure you've noticed that the more you rush your children, the slower they become. Instead, build in a few extra moments to avoid daily morning madness. Give each child her own alarm clock so she is in charge of waking herself up. It's helpful to have a regular routine during the week that is consistent and predictable. If you're not a single parent, enlist your spouse to help feed, dress and prepare kids for school or take turns on different days.

Help your child form the habit of organizing before bedtime. Have him lay out the next day's clothes, put homework in his backpack and place it by the door, if you want to reduce last minute rushes in the morning.

Limit your children's choices at breakfast and in selecting clothes. If you don't want them wearing their favorite down jacket in summer, or shorts in winter, make sure those clothes are inaccessible.

And whenever you can, set aside a block of time when you can fully focus on each child individually. Slow down, don't answer the phone, and borrow from your child that special ability to be fully present in the moment.

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