My 5 year old is a Dawdler Supreme; I have never seen a child dilly-dally as much as she does. If you have a child who makes you pull your hair out because he or she dawdles, here are some thoughts:
* Remind yourself (repeatedly!) that teaching your child to get a move on is going to take years.
* Keep the big picture in mind. During those times when all you want to do is yell at your dilly dallier, pray instead - while remembering the ultimate goal is not to upset my child or make her feel bad, but to help her learn the joys of being punctual.
* It doesn't help to give a lecture on dawdling when you're in the midst of trying to hurry up your child. Instead, find a relaxing few minutes later in the day to discuss why it's important not to dilly dally. Talk about the negatives of dawdling, sure, but end with the positive effects of getting things done in a timely fashion.
* Ask yourself whether you're expecting too much. Is the thing you want your child to do age appropriate?
* Break down the steps for your child. For example, if I ask my 5 year old to get dressed, she gets overwhelmed and doesn't know where to start. But if I stand nearby and talk her through the steps one at a time, she can handle it. Yes, there are definitely times I need her to do something without my help, but I before I can do that, I must break the task down into steps a few times.
* Help your child become a problem solver. When you're not in the midst of trying to rush, sit down with your child and discuss one area where he or she repeatedly has trouble with dawdling. Ask your child to come up with come up with solutions that either you or your child can implement.
* Sometimes dawdlers just flat need more time. For example, if your child takes forever to get into bed, maybe you need to start the bedtime routine earlier in the evening.
* Offer motivation. For some kids, this might mean withholding reading time, television, or other fun stuff until the task is completed.
* Give your child a checklist. If your child is too young to read, simple pictures showing tasks like brushing teeth or getting dressed will do the trick.
* Make it a race. Some kids respond well to competition, so you can say something like, "Whoever gets dressed first gets to [insert special reward here]!"
* Help your child recognize cause and effect. Sometimes saying something like "I see you've changed your clothes before 7:30. That's great! Now there's time for us to sit down and read a book together." Other times, you might have to gently say, "It's already 8:00. No time for a book this morning."
* Teach kids clock awareness. Help your child become aware of the ticking minutes by saying things like, "It's 12:30. That's lunch time." And "It's 1 o'clock. Lunch is over." Another great project is to give your child a stop watch and a list of activities (like "toast a piece of bread," "prepare a bowl of cereal," and "feed the cat") and help him or her time each one. Most dawdlers have a bad sense of how fast time passes, and activities like this can make them more aware of time moving.
* Help your child notice time passing - without nagging. Say something like "You have 5 minutes to get your shoes on." At 4 minutes, say, "You only have 1 minute left, hon. If your shoes aren't on in 1 minute, we're going outside without you." It's important not to yell. Or repeat.
* Use a timer or - better yet - the Time Timer. The Time Timer (pictured right) has a red section that allows children to easily visualize how much time they have left. My daughter responded exceedingly well this little clock and we've have pretty good results with it. I even use it for her homework; for example, I'll give her a set of math problems, set the Time Timer to a reasonable time limit, and tell her to "beat the clock." My only real complaint about the Time Timer is that my daughter wants to use it for everything - even simple tasks like washing her hands, which is not normally an issue for her.
What have you done to help your dawdler?