Morning meltdowns with 4 year old - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > Morning meltdowns with 4 year old
Mami_Feliz's Avatar Mami_Feliz 02:29 PM 10-26-2011

My four-year old hates dressing himself in the morning. It becomes a massive issue every morning and I just don't know how to deal with it. It generally ends up being a big battle of wills and I get really cross. It's a terrible way to start the day and I really need to find another way of dealing with it. He's quite independent in some ways, yet is really clinging on to some baby ways - he wants me to do a lot of things for him (including dressing him) and he isn't fully toilet trained yet. Anyone BTDT with suggestions? I want him to enjoy doing things for himself and I want to be patient with him. I don't mind this going at a slow pace but I do want to feel like we're moving forward.

Thanks!



prancie's Avatar prancie 02:36 PM 10-26-2011

do you mean he won't get dressed at all or he won't put his clothes on by himself?


pianojazzgirl's Avatar pianojazzgirl 03:09 PM 10-26-2011

Mornings are a tough time.  Kids can be kind of fragile at that time of day, as they're still sleepy and parents are rushing around to get out the door.  Honestly what I'd do is just help him get dressed.  Even though he is capable of doing it himself he's showing you that at that time he could use that little extra "babying" (nurturing). 

 

He'll get there eventually - I promise.


Mami_Feliz's Avatar Mami_Feliz 10:45 PM 10-26-2011


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prancie View Post

do you mean he won't get dressed at all or he won't put his clothes on by himself?


Basically he won't do anything by himself. Occasionally, when he's very excited about going to do something, he does the whole lot. Unfortunately, now I've made the situation worse by pushing him too much and he doesn't want to get dressed at all.

 



Quote:
Originally Posted by pianojazzgirl View Post

Mornings are a tough time.  Kids can be kind of fragile at that time of day, as they're still sleepy and parents are rushing around to get out the door.  Honestly what I'd do is just help him get dressed.  Even though he is capable of doing it himself he's showing you that at that time he could use that little extra "babying" (nurturing). 

 

He'll get there eventually - I promise.

 

Thank you -  I think I've just seen the light! I've been seeing how every other child at preschool is very capable with all these things and I've been feeling that we've been holding our son back by doing too much for him. You're quite right - I need to just back down and trust that he'll get there. (I'm also 9 weeks pregnant and worried about how I'll cope with three kids, so I think that has had a lot to do with me wanting to get him more independent).
 

 


Sunmaiden's Avatar Sunmaiden 07:42 AM 10-27-2011

My 6 year old still requires a little help, and I find that if I can give him a few minutes of special attention at the start of the day, he's more inclined to be independent later.  Sometimes mornings are hard, when kids are still sleepy, so reaching down to make the leg holes easier to get into can make a real difference.  Tantrums do find a way of turning into logical dialogs, as your child grows.  Hang in there!

 

Best Wishes,

Sunmaiden


Emmeline II's Avatar Emmeline II 04:52 PM 10-27-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunmaiden View Post

My 6 year old still requires a little help, and I find that if I can give him a few minutes of special attention at the start of the day, he's more inclined to be independent later.  Sometimes mornings are hard, when kids are still sleepy, so reaching down to make the leg holes easier to get into can make a real difference. 


nod.gif Ds was like this last year. On top of that he has ADHD and is "all over the place" before his medication kicks in, so to get him ready on time he'd often also sit on my lap and I'd feed himshrug.gif. Trying to force ds to do it himself because he was "old enough" just ended in battle and would often result in him having behavior days in school.

 

This year is better and though I might take 5 minutes to help him dress, with dd also in school I don't usually have time as I have to get dd's (too short in the front for a ponytail self-cut haireyesroll.gif) up. I did ask dh to come downstairs earlier to sit with him/encourage him if he wasn't ready yet. That dd also has to get ready for school probably helps as he knows she isn't getting extra cuddles when he's in schoolorngtongue.gif.


prancie's Avatar prancie 08:17 PM 10-27-2011

My 4 year old also needs help most of the time to get dressed, and even to eat!  Occasionally he'll get inspired and do it all himself, but not usually.  Don't worry I think it's normal.  


SweetSilver's Avatar SweetSilver 08:52 PM 10-27-2011

We put on clean play clothes instead of pajamas because it cuts any possible resistance exactly in half.  Another trick that worked was laying out the clothes on the floor in the way they would be put on.  At first I made this into an obstacle course.  Then I would lay them out in the hallway to find on their way to brush teeth.

 

Here's how I lay them out:

 

Shirt is put face down.  At first I encouraged my youngest to "crawl inside the cave".  This helped orient her.  Then the underwear is laid out so that they can be put on properly sitting down.  Then the pants are laid out the same way.  Some days I lay out options on the floor in the same manner so they can pick and choose.

 

I will say, though, that as successful as this was, my girls still often want me to help dress them and they can act hopeless and helpless and newborn babes, even though they are 5 and 6.5.  When one of them uses the potty and wipes and pulls up up pants all by herself I act with feigned shock and sadness and say "That was my job!  What am I supposed to do if you can do that all by yourself!"

 

I will also say that this method does not absolutely prevent little ones from finding a way to put them on all wonky.

 

Years ago a mom sent a photo of her proud son into a parenting magazine.  He sported a homemade button that said "I dressed myself this morning!"  She loved that it encouraged him to dress himself-- and to offer to the world an excuse for his odd choices.


Just1More's Avatar Just1More 06:56 AM 10-29-2011

Maybe just shaking up the routine would help.  It sounds like you are locked against each other a bit.

 

My ds is transformed by a snack and a soak in the tub.  Maybe you could try handing him something (like maybe a egg burrito) and sticking him in a nice warm tub in the morning.  Or put a plate of toast on a chair beside him.  Get him up a bit earlier so he has a little time, and just ignore him in there.  Eventually wander back in, drop his clothes and towel on the floor and say, "Hey, if you can get this on and on the couch in the next 5 minutes, I'll have time to do (insert favorite activity) with you before we leave." 

 

Then, give him the 5 minutes.  If you come back, and he isn't ready, then just do it for him, without comment.  Try again tomorrow.  A fun thing to incite him right now might be starting to work on Christmas present crafts for his friends.  :)


Mami_Feliz's Avatar Mami_Feliz 04:27 PM 10-30-2011

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I've stopped worrying about it and now I'm helping him, but he does help out actively with a lot of it. He doesn't become a limp doll on me like he was doing! So, much better - and, most importantly, our days start gently and not with an argument. Generally, with both the boys we've never put pressure on them to do anything before they were ready, and I'm good at trusting my own intuition, so I'm not sure why I got so uptight about this. Some comments from his preschool made me think that we were perhaps holding him back by facilitating so much and I think that's what set me off. Anyway, all much happier now!


Emmeline II's Avatar Emmeline II 08:21 AM 10-31-2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mami_Feliz View Post
Some comments from his preschool made me think that we were perhaps holding him back by facilitating so much and I think that's what set me off.


I think that schools often complain about behavior that is not harmful, but also not convenient when you have to "manage" so many children.

 


Neera's Avatar Neera 12:06 PM 10-31-2011

We have the same issue. At other times she happily dresses herself but mornings are hard on dd. So, I help her - with everything. I have tried to put her to bed earlier to help but even with the lights out she is awake in bed. We co-sleep. Our battle though, is, that even though I help her with everything she wants daddy to do this and that. He has to get ready for work and help dress her. I think she needs more time to get in to the school going routine (rules.)


Kathy White's Avatar Kathy White 01:56 PM 11-01-2011

I love reading the shift in you Mami Feliz about this issue and I can totally relate.  Whenever I have got myself into a "battle" with my children it has been because I have wanted them to do something, not based on my own inner guidance, but because some outside voice (could be the voice of my mother, or school or another parent) has said it needs to be done this way. I am thankful to have the tool of The Work of Byron Katie to try and identify my stressful thoughts  which often come with a "should" attached to them. 

 

 My little one still wants to be dressed by me unless it is one of those days when I tell them about going to The Farm, or the swimming pool or some activity he loves then there is no stopping him.  He goes full steam ahead to get dressed with great gusto.  So I've been there with, "I know he can do this",  "He should get dressed by himself", "I shouldn't over protect him", "Other parents think I'm not fostering independence" (he's four this is such a crazy thought - but I've fallen for it) 

 

What I've begun to notice now I've settled all my stressful thoughts  and peace is back in place for our getting dressed routine, is that when he says "Moma I want help" what he really wants is my help in paying him attention - to nourish my connection and for me to be present with him.  And I discover I want that too, some days this getting dressed together will be our only time together until much later in the afternoon, so it's really nice that he asks me for help.  

 

And we've got really playful with it too, he can bounce into his underwear, I check he still has seven toes on each foot before putting on his socks "NO MOMA I have FIVE toes!" and I rough-house and can grab him to sit down and pretend I'm going to hold him there but of course he is "so strong" he can pull away...I love that I dropped the thought that "He should do this by himself" and can enjoy this time together.  


Mami_Feliz's Avatar Mami_Feliz 02:28 PM 11-01-2011


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kathy White View Post

I love reading the shift in you Mami Feliz about this issue and I can totally relate.  Whenever I have got myself into a "battle" with my children it has been because I have wanted them to do something, not based on my own inner guidance, but because some outside voice (could be the voice of my mother, or school or another parent) has said it needs to be done this way. I am thankful to have the tool of The Work of Byron Katie to try and identify my stressful thoughts  which often come with a "should" attached to them. 


Yes, that word "should"! It's probably always about other people's expectations and rarely to do with the children themselves. This has been a very interesting issue for me as when I posted originally I felt sure that he "should" be getting dressed. It only took a couple of wise posts for me to feel very relieved that there was nothing wrong at all with what we had been doing before (ie helping him). You're right, he may well be looking for some nurturing before I leave him at preschool for the morning. Funnily enough, today he told me he could do it all by himself - just needed a little help with socks.


Murph12334's Avatar Murph12334 06:58 PM 11-10-2011

My 5 1/2 yo dd is so NOT a morning person!  Neither am I so we are not a good mix in the morning.  Trying to work out getting dressed was a challenge.  We've done some stuff to help.
I pick out clothes with her the night before.  That way she's picking out clothes when she's awake instead of fighting and hemming and hawing over clothes in the morning.  It would take 20 min sometimes just for her to pick the clothes in the morning before.  We lay out the clothes on the cedar chest, along with shoes and her coat.  Everything is there then so when she gets up it's the first thing she has to get done.  I also wake her a little earlier now so she's not so rushed.


Tags: Childhood , Childhood Stress
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