Speed Up Your Dawdler

Posted by in No-Cry Discipline

Does your child move at an excruciatingly slow pace?  Do you find it frustrating when you need to get somewhere and you’re rushing about – yet you have to keep prodding him along?  


Children live according to a much slower clock than we adults do.  They are not thinking about what they are doing next, they are just enjoying each moment.   Why can’t we all live on “kid-time?”   Kids are looking at the color patterns in the carpet, looking at their toes, watching the cat sleep and so much more. But since we cannot live on “kid-time” here are some ideas to keep things moving along.

Laura, 3 years

Laura, 3 years

Give specific step-by-step directions.
Make some simple request that you child can understand and follow.  Giving you child 1 or 2 tasks at a time and when those are complete, go ahead and assign the next task.  “Please put your puzzle in the box and go to the bathroom.”


Make a list.

Make it fun and write down on an expo board the order of the tasks to be completed and have your child check it off when each one is done.


Give an incentive to finish.
Encourage your child to finish the task with a “When/Then” statement, such as, “When you get in the car, then you can have your crackers.”


Analyze your own daily schedule.

Parents are so busy now-a-days.   Check your schedule out for the day to make sure that you are not trying to do too much. If you are, see if you can make some changes. Start focusing on the priorities in your life, eliminate some of the unnecessary time-wasters, and slow yourself down a little bit.


Check your child’s nap and sleep schedules.

Children who aren’t getting a proper amount of sleep will lack energy and tend to move slowly and dawdle.


Don’t rush your child with the words, “Come on!” or “Hurry up!”

Taking some extra time when you are trying to get everything done and try to not use those phrases.   They will tend to frustrate children and then they rush to the point of taking extra time to make up for the mistakes that happen when they move too fast.

Matthew and Alyssa

Matthew & Alyssa

Don’t reinforce the pattern.

Children often dawdle out of habit. A parent will announce, “Time to go” and then be distracted by a phone call or a household task (so then it really isn’t time to go.) Children come to expect that you’ll repeat yourself numerous times before they have to respond. Practice this: think before you speak, make a very specific request, and then follow through.


Don’t expect speed.
Make sure to allow plenty of time for your child to meet your request. Keep an eye out on how fast your child’s pace is, so you will know what to expect when you are ready to go.  Just because you are in a hurry doesn’t mean your child will move any faster than his usual speed.


Avoid miscommunication.

Make clear, specific statements that don’t leave room for misunderstanding. As an example, instead of the vague statement, “Get ready to go,” clarify by saying, “Right now, would you please put on your shoes and your coat, and get in the car.”



Read The No-Cry Discipline Solution for more ideas & inspiration.