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Dawdling 5yo

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

My husband and I are at our wits end with our dawdling 5yo.  She knows what she needs to do to get ready for bed (brush and floss, get pj's on and go potty), but she ends up playing or talking or otherwise doing anything but getting ready for bed.  And in the morning she does the same about getting ready for school.  This morning she took so long and forgot so many things she ended up missing school (which she loves).  (FYI I get I have bedtime duty while my husband has morning duty, since I'm at work) I have written check lists of things she needs to do, set timers and done way to much yelling.  Does anyone have any suggestions for getting a dawdling 5yo to get motivated?

post #2 of 19

Have you tried doing it with her? Are you there supervising her, helping her on the way? I know it sounds labor intensive, but I've found it's much faster in the long run. If she's social, she may appreciate having someone to chat with while she gets dressed/brushes her teeth, etc.

 

I know that she's probably physically capable of doing these things on her own, but if she's just 5 she may not be mentally ready to focus her attention on getting out the door/into bed (and my kids have no motivation for focusing on getting into bed!)

 

post #3 of 19

I have a 4yo who is the same way.  I read her bedtime stories and i tend to tell her she has x time (and i always make sure it is PLENTY of time for the task in hand) and if she uses up more it will eat into the time we have for bedtime stories.  Mostly this is a good motivator, but sometimes (last night was an example) she doesn't get it together and she doesn't get bedtime stories.  She said to me last night "why do you always want me to do everything in a massive hurry!?" and i pointed out that if she does things when i FIRST ask she has plenty of time, and waiting until i've reminded her 4 times (i do so at 5minute intervals) is what makes it all a huge rush.  She seemed to understand this, but only time will tell if it makes any difference.

 

I wish standing over her made a decent difference.  In fact being "social" is what she loves but it doesn't involve attending to her task, it involves going off on a million tangents and not doing ANYthing she is supposed to be doing.

post #4 of 19

Make a list of things she needs to have done in the morning.  We can do X after you do Y. We can talk once your done with your getting ready for bed.  I found my kids moved faster when the task I wanted done was their ownly option.  

 

You can also have her beat the timer.  

 

post #5 of 19

Would getting to check things off of a list herself be motivating for her?  I have 5 yo twins; One of them gets through tasks really well by having each task listed (in picture form) on a white board and she gets to check it off each when she completes it.  For the other there is no interest in the list and I still need to make a game of everything.  Luckily telling her not to do something (she knows I'm joking) or discussing with the dog that I don't think she's going to get x done is working right now and has been for awhile.  I say luckily because previous games were much more labor intensive on my part.

post #6 of 19

My 5 yo is this way, too -- frustrating, yes! But I think with mine, she's just not old enough yet to handle all those things on her own. I'll ask her to help get ready (get your backpack, put on socks and shoes, brush your teeth, etc) and she will do them sometimes, but other times not, and then I end up doing them with her and sometimes even for her, as I did when she was littler. I agree with Lynn on the mental focus, she may just not be able keep a sustained focus on these things for long, and it may be less time-consuming and less frustrating for everyone to help her out than to expect her to do it herself and/or keep asking her over and over with no results. 

post #7 of 19

OP, I came on MDC this morning specifically for ideas about this.  :)  I am oddly delighted to find out that it's not just my kid who can't seem to get it together without me following him around the house in the morning to get ready for school.  "Okay, ds, now you need to get dressed.  Nope, no paper airplane.  Dressed.  Nope, don't go see your sister.  Dressed.  Dressed.  Dressed. ......."

 

I like the whiteboard idea, with pictures.  Part of me thinks my ds would love that idea. The other part of me thinks checking things off would be just one more thing to _do_ in the 45 minutes before school....!!  :)

 

Are five year olds developmentally ready to get themselves ready without so much input?  I think I might be calmer about this if I thought it was appropriate for me to be following this kid around all morning, telling him every single little thing he has to do.  Literally.  "Ds, take the cap off the toothpaste." <--- this actually came out of my mouth yesterday.

 

Frustrating.....especially when I am not a morning person...

post #8 of 19

FWIW, my 5 year old is the same.

 

It is massively frustrating because I *know* she can choose clothes and get herself dressed in under 5 minutes if she focuses on it.  But being "on time" is just not a priority for her.  I'm certain this is 100% normal, but it doesn't make it any less frustrating when you need to get out the door in the morning.

post #9 of 19

I was never a morning person and I definitely remember dawdling in the mornings when I was supposed to be getting ready for school. My mom was a teacher and so we had to get there earlier than the other kids because she had to be there at a certain time. Her solution was, when it's time to go, we're leaving, whether you're ready or not. Didn't have breakfast? Buy it in the cafeteria. Here's 50 cents. Haven't brushed your hair? Bring the hairbrush in the car. You wanted to change your shirt? Too bad. I definitely remember leaving for school many times in a less-than-perfectly-ready state. Never in my pajamas, but it was close once or twice and I learned that mom meant business when she said come on. When we were older, she would leave us home to catch the bus if we weren't ready on time, and we hated riding the bus so that was good incentive to hurry it up.

post #10 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HerRoyallHighness View Post

I was never a morning person and I definitely remember dawdling in the mornings when I was supposed to be getting ready for school. My mom was a teacher and so we had to get there earlier than the other kids because she had to be there at a certain time. Her solution was, when it's time to go, we're leaving, whether you're ready or not. Didn't have breakfast? Buy it in the cafeteria. Here's 50 cents. Haven't brushed your hair? Bring the hairbrush in the car. You wanted to change your shirt? Too bad. I definitely remember leaving for school many times in a less-than-perfectly-ready state. Never in my pajamas, but it was close once or twice and I learned that mom meant business when she said come on. When we were older, she would leave us home to catch the bus if we weren't ready on time, and we hated riding the bus so that was good incentive to hurry it up.



This is how we deal with our ds too. He also has to leave earlier with his dh who is a teacher. He has a comb at school, has actually had to brush his teeth in the car or finish breakfast on the way (which he hates). So generally when it gets close to that point he buckles down and finishes eating, shoes on, etc. But it still hasn't changed how much we have to hound him. I've found he does much better with frequent reminders, but as soon as we're losing our tempers or become impatient it get so much WORSE.  Some days this goes well but some times dh and I don't feel very patient.

post #11 of 19

Have you tried timing your dawdler? Use a stop watch, make it fun ("time to get ready for bed; on your mark, get set, GO") and see if they can beat their own score the next day. If they still dawdle, you can tell them "Wow, it took you 25 minutes to get ready for bed. That means tomorrow we have to go upstairs 25 minutes early." I do this with my slowpoke daughter all the time. Occasionally it actually works...

post #12 of 19

My Ds is the same. He is almost 6 and always has had trouble staying on task. He gets distracted easily. I ask him to get dressed in the morning and find that he made it half way to his bedroom but found a toy along the way and decided to play. I'll send him to get his shoes and he doesn't come back, instead I'll find him jumping or playing. I'll say "DS, what did I ask you to do?" He has to think about it! and most of the time he can not remember. That says to me that he is easily distracted and is not processing what I ask him to do. I don't have many solutions except to check frequently on what he is doing, give only one task at a time, and make sure you have time.

post #13 of 19

Do it with her. Bring her jammies in your room and change together or have her change while you tidy up or sort laundry or whatever. Keep her toothbrush in your bathroom, or yours in hers, and stay with her. She's little still and desires your presence and companionship.

post #14 of 19

My five year old has only a few things to do in the morning, and struggles daily to get them done on time. The one thing I am firm about is that he eats breakfast, so he must do that before he gets dressed. Otherwise, I need him to get dressed in preselected clothes, brush his teeth, put on coat and boots and pick up his backpack. There are days he is 30 minutes late for school, and so I asked his teacher for suggestions. She said he could come in his pj's with a snack in his bag, but it needs to be made clear to him that at school he has jobs to do (sign in by writing his name, basically) before he has any choice over his activities. If he needs to do his home jobs like eating and dressing as well, they will be done during centre time, which is his favourite, so he will miss out. I have explained this to him, and so far it is going pretty well. I also have a lifestyle where I can usually help him out in the morning, especially helpful since he gets freaked out and anxious easily.

Before I get too flamed her, I have thought long and hard about the shaming of sending him like that and decided that he has many opportunities to make good choices, we have discussed it in a way he is clear on his responsibilities, and if he chooses not to do his job, he also accepts the consequences. Justmaking that stand and being very clear that I will stick with it and be backed by his teacher seems to have worked wonders!

post #15 of 19

My dd was 8 before I didn't have to hover over here continually reminding her and keeping her on task in situations like this.  Acutally, she was better at 7 than 5, but she wasn't pretty independant until 8.  Your dd might very well just not be at that point yet.

post #16 of 19

Oh boy, I feel for you, but my dawdler is 8. His biggest problem is reading. He'll find a book or grab a book or read the packaging on something. This morning I thought he was getting dressed, but no, he was butt naked reading on the toilet. *sigh* He's not had breakfast the past two days because of his dawdling. I don't like that, but what can I do? 

 

As for the suggestions to oversee everything.... In a perfect world that would be great. But I am always juggling a million things in the morning, so I really don't see how that's possible. 

post #17 of 19

I'm going to have to agree with "Do it with her". I help my DD get dressed in the morning and do the whole"brush teeth, go to bathroom, get on pjs" at night. After she's ready, my 5 year old DD gets a piggyback ride to bed. Spending a few minutes helping her is a lot better than asking her to do stuff and then getting frustrated because she 's too impulsive to stay on task. 5 is pretty young for being able to stay on task and resist impulses to other more interesting things.

post #18 of 19

My DD, almost 6, dwaddles and just can't stay on task. I really think she's just not cognitively able to keep herself focused on task yet. I don't think its a discipline issue. I volunteer in her kindergarten class and all the children seem the same way. They need repeated and frequent prompts to do just about everything.

 

I half-dress her, brush her teeth for her, anything that requires a timeline I help her with.

post #19 of 19

I make it all about giving her two choices (both of them acceptable activities).  Such as, do you want to take a bath or brush your teeth first?  This gets my daughter on task because it sidesteps other options.  Also the whole night runs on routines so she knows exactly what to expect next.  When it's time for bed I'll say "looks like it's time for your vitamin juice" which is something she really likes.  So if she starts saying "no," I'll be like "oh you want to skip vitamin juice and go straight upstairs?"  Of course not :-) 

 

That said, my daughter is only 2, so I don't know if the same tricks work at 5.  However my husband has noticed that this works on adults too.  His coworker quit because their boss gave him a similar false choice.  He could have made them fire him and get unemployment, but he didn't think about that because the boss just offered two choices that were in the company's best interest!

 

DD knows her routine and will usually keep it moving forward.  Sometimes she needs prodding especially with getting dressed, so we often need to keep giving her choices like "do you want the striped shirt or the dotted one."  Make sure to define the choices specifically instead of saying "what shirt do you want to wear" because then she'll spend way too much time surveying the whole drawer and changing her mind.

 

In the case of true resistance, I have to say "are you going to do it or do I have to do it?"  Which means physically taking over, wrestling the shirt on her for example.  No one likes this.  In the ensuing meltdown I will give her another chance to do it herself and that usually results in cooperation. 

 

When she's doing really well, making progress in areas that are often a struggle, I'll usually say "thank you for..." whatever it was.

 

Staying calm is also important :-)  She'll probably be calmer and more reasonable herself if you can keep it chill when everything is going wrong.  Take a break or switch with your DP if you've just "had it."

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