In this fast paced world, we often feel like there is no extra time at all. Certainly we don’t want to have to waste time on someone else’s dawdling, but for parents of young children, its often not a matter of choice. If you are dealing with a dawdler in your home, you have the power to solve the problem.
There are a number of well-tested strategies available for speeding up your child. The key is to keep yourself and the situation under control. Don’t simply tell your child to hurry up, hurry up, hurry up or they will learn to tune your nagging out. You will accomplish nothing that way. Similarly, getting angry or threatening to punish a slow child for being slow will simply teach them that they can get your attention this way.
If they are acting out, then they will continue to use the behavior to act out and if no, well then they a have learned a new way to get to you. Overly harsh punishments for dawdling will only result in your child’s resentment rather than their obedience. Finally, don’t go the other direct and bribe your child to speed up either. This will teach them that if they dawdle long enough that you might be willing to reward them for it.
An option instead of getting upset is to give your child motivation to speed up. If you can involve them in the process of getting ready or distract them from their dawdling, then you will be much more likely to achieve the results you are seeking. Try proposing a race: “I’ll bet I can have my coat and hat on and be ready to go before you can!” By changing the routine to a game, you alter your child’s response to the situation from apathy to engagement. Similarly, you can prepare a child for the coming change in activities and give them a goal to achieve. Warn them that in five minutes you will be leaving and then provide them with a timer or a countdown. If they do not make it on time, then let them be late or miss out on the next activity. This will teach them that poor time management has consequences in their lif which results in a valuable lesson for school and work.
Finally, if your child has developed a habit of dawdling, take the time to study the situation and determine the cause. This will help you to properly handle the problem in the future. Children dawdle for many reasons. The younger they are, the more likely they are to simply become distracted or absorbed in all of the different things that they encounter in their world. Additionally, very young children are still refining their motor skills and cannot move as fast as you can, nor should they be expected to. An older child might dawdle as a way to exercise some control over their environment or as an attempt to act out negative emotions. And in the end, some children simply like to move more slowly through their day. Whatever the cause, once you have identified it, you will be much better equipped to deal with it in the long term.