Someone the other day asked about how to get one of her slowpoke children moving in the morning. The days were starting with yelling and frustration, which set an unpleasant tone for the whole day.
While I’m no expert, I do have a pokey 7 year old who describes herself as “not made for rushing.” Here are some of the things that help keep her going:
- Minimize the morning responsibilities. When she wakes in the morning, her only tasks are to go to the bathroom, brushing her teeth, getting dressed and brushing her hair. That’s it, and that can take 45 minutes to an hour. I wake her up about an hour before school starts to begin this process, so that I don’t have to constantly be prompting her along. (As for making beds, she does that on the weekends and when she comes home from school. I don’t ask her to do that in the mornings because then we would never leave the house.)
- Set timers. For homework and clean up, I set timers and make it a competition. She happens to be very competitive, and it’s amazing how much she gets done racing a timer so she can win. Most of the time, there’s no prize- just the satisfaction of winning. Homework will now last only 20 minutes instead of 2 hours.
- Offer a reward. There are times when I will offer a prize for winning, but that’s usually when it’s trying to get both kids to clean their rooms. Honestly, the prize they both love is more snuggle time with Mom. Other things that have worked are: winner gets to pick the movie, 10 minutes with the iPad, and an extra story at bedtime. (Sometimes it helps to just say “When you pick up all your toys, then we can leave for the playdate.”)
- Stick to a routine. Her morning and evening routines are set in stone, and she is responsible for them. Even if we are out late and I want to rush it, she insists on carrying through the routine.
- Enforce natural consequences. If she gets all of her responsibilities completed before we need to leave for school, then she gets a hot breakfast like pancakes or oatmeal. If she is extra-pokey, then she gets a baggie of cereal as we rush out the door to make it in time. This is the same in the evening. If she does her evening routine by a certain time, then there is more cuddle time, and I’ll read her a longer story. But if she dawdles, there isn’t enough time to enjoy the extras.