How to Handle a "Little" Thing

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Lulu, Jan 20, 2008.

  1. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    My DS (4.5) consistently does a few things that create slow-downs in our day. I try to be flexible, but wonder if the way I deal with them could be better. Do you all have any advice/experience? Traditional parenting ideas haven't worked for me, and I feel like y'all know much better what I'm going through than my friends or family (or husband, even).

    DS is slow as Christmas. Slow, slow, s-l-o-w. I have come to the conclusion that he does not do this to annoy us, but that is just how he operates when he has to move from one place to another. Ex: "your clothes are downstairs on the chair, please go put them on for school." (and they are down there because I originally needed to prevent a battle caused by making him go upstairs to get them, but somehow he got upstairs with-o me knowing. sigh.) So he lays on the landing and wiggles around with some strange noises and songs that he enjoys (thanks, wow-wow-wubbzy). Then husband will prod him with a stern reminder. So DS will grab the banister and start moving his feet down half on the railing and half on the stairs in an elaborate gymnastic maneuver, yet in slow motion. Half way down, he might turn around and get on hands and knees and perform some other contortion. husband getting steamed and barks and grabs DS by arm and leads him to his clothes. DS drops to the ground and wow-wows some more. These moments usually end up with me stepping in and issuing some kind of game-like challenge (a race to put on the pants, or a choice like "which first? pants or shirt?") which may or may not spur him to get dressed. Sometimes husband just grabs his pants, sits the boy down and starts stuffing his legs in. That creates a crying, more resistent kid for me to get into the car.

    It doesn't matter how early we get up--he will fart away the time no matter what. If it's not spent lolling on the floor, it's spent catterwauling on the toilet--making up songs and rhymes, or playing with his breakfast.

    I have tried to be the drill sargeant (time outs, for ex)--but that results in escalation that becomes physical and tearful, two times out of three. He doesn't care about consequences. He was happy to go to school with-o his shirt on last year. Gleeful and proud, in fact. I've gone so far as to take away privileges--doesn't phaze him in the least. One thing I tried for several weeks before the holiday break was to have him make his own morning schedule checklist with-required before-school activities HE wrote and drew pictures of and made check boxes for. LIKE A CHARM. He was up and dressed and pottied and ready to eat and we were always stress-free and on time with all boxes checked. For only about two weeks, though. The magic is now gone and he's back to the slug state. So that idea is stale. I'm thinking you all know the progression here.

    It is seemingly a small thing to say "my child is slow as molasses," but it is creating a problem for the whole family because it not only happend in the a.m., it happens EVERYWHERE. Inside the house and out. Even in his preschool, for ex., when the teacher asks him to put on his coat when it is time for me to pick him up.

    p.s. edited to add I can't get my siggy to show up, even though the appropriate box is checked.
    p.p.s edited again to say that when I am logged in, I can't see my siggy on the forum post, but when I'm logged out and look at my post, there it is! ???
  2. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I feel your pain. In the mornings - or anytime we needed to be somewhere at a certain time - my daughter was a turtle. I was even known to say, 'Come on, Turtle.' She was soooo slow. by the way, (and totally unrelated except that it makes me chuckle) I called my son 'slick'. He went through this phase where he'd wet his hair down in the morning and slick it down - looked like Alphalpha without the hair sticking up on top. So, my kids were Turtle and Slick.

    Anyway, like you I tried a gazillion things. What I ultimately found that worked was the order in which we did things. I used to get her up and feed her breakfast because that was the easiest way to get her out of bed. But, then the getting dressed for an hour would come into play. So, I'd get her up, she'd get dressed THEN breakfast. She'd take forever, so there were no books or toys at the table. She could have those after she ate. I'd still have to allow for extra time in the morning, but at least this way she'd be dressed, fed and ready to go by the time it was time to leave. She learned that if she wanted to have time for play before leaving, the other stuff had to be done first.

    Hope this helps.
  3. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I should add that this doesn't mean she hopped right out of bed and got dressed. She still needed prodding and reminding. Instead of standing over her, though, I'd call out from wherever I was...are your socks on? is your shirt on? are your shoes on? One step at a time. Standing over her just led to frustration on her part, as well as mine.

    But, knowing that first she got dressed, then she ate helped her to get moving.

    For a lot of our kids, saying 'go get dressed' is just too many steps. So, I found asking about each individual item (i asked about them in the order she put them on) worked best. I hate using the term 'staying on task' because I have found it to be so overused in our school district. But, that's essentially what I was doing...helping her stay on task.
  4. meowbunny

    meowbunny New Member

    Mine went to bed in her school clothes. Since she lived in sweats in the winter and shorts in the summer, this wasn't much of a problem. If she wore jeans, I'd just make sure they weren't buttoned. Saved a lot of time in the morning.

    Another thing that helped was a timer and a check list. 10 minutes to eat breakfast. 10 minutes to brush teeth, wash face, etc. 5 minutes to put on shoes and coat to leave house. If she finished an item before the timer when off, I checked it off the list. If she wasn't finished, she was to leave whatever she was doing and go on to the next thing. If there was time, she could go back and finish. I would then check them off. At first, I was lucky if there were 10 check marks at the end of the week, so that became the goal. 10 checks and she got to pick dessert on Friday night. 15 and she to stay up 30 minutes later on Friday and Saturday. 20 and it was the Jungle. As she got better at getting ready on time, I upped the numbers. The nice part is the timer was the boss, not me. It saved a lot of nagging and grief.

    It took awhile, but she does now get ready on time.
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Children with the cluster of issues that I think you're describing often have a number of things going on that make mornings a pain for a parent in a hurry. Some have auditory memory problems and if you give them a multistep list of instructions they get lost. Some have executive function problems (the CEO area of the brain isn't operating in a typical fashion), some are highly distractable and/or distracted by their obsessive topics.

    If he's not ready and/or able to follow through with the instruction and do it independently give him the support he needs until it is. What you have to throw out the window for now is the expectation that my child has reached a certain age and therefore he should be able to do X, Y, Z and instead individualize to your child's developmental timeline. After trying a lot of things that didn't work, I finally resorted to doing what made it easiest on me. Instead of telling him to go get his clothes and get dressed, I'd bring the clothes to him and dress him. If he needs a parent to stick with him and guide him through each step of the morning, then assign a parent to do that or plan on tag teaming off. He's only 4.5 and it's not uncommon for kids at that age to have a very different agenda than mom and dad for the morning. If he's not ready, it's like beating yourself over the head with a bat every morning. (Been there, done that!).

    If the schedule idea worked short term, you might want to create some alternatives and rotate them. Schedule, day timer, social story, etc.

    Another idea is to not to give a more immediate award--ie he finishes then gets to play a video game (or whatever) when he's ready in the morning. Or consider your morning schedule to see if there are steps you can make to make it more pleasant might help--I make a hot breakfast and read novels to my kids while they're eating. None of them want to sleep through that. ;)
  6. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Thanks, folks. All great ideas and lots to think about! I guess I do need to let go of the idea that he has the skills to stay on task with-o a CEO (whether it's me, a timer, or a list he creates).
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I have to say it is wonderful to hear you be ready to let go of the idea that he needs an "external CEO" to get himself ready. It took my husband YEARS to get to that point, years AFTER I got there. So it was really really hard in the morning around here.

    What happens if after you get him up you don't say anything until you leave? Right now it probably won't have a good result. BUT...

    There is hope.

    My youngest was like this. Even my daughter would hassle him to get in gear. Oldest had no patience for it, and left him totally alone, thank heavens.

    I have been dealing with a new health crisis and a flare of an old one for several months. My mom or dad drives over to take him to school because the bus comes at a very early time and it is a 30 minute wait at school with-no adults between the drop-off and when the adults get there. Just isn't SAFE, in my humble opinion.

    Since this flareup, my turtle has gotten his own act together. He sees how bad mornings are, and most of the time, if I get up at 7:30 he is dressed and eating breakfast, or has already eaten. He often even has his backpack on, though he doesn't need it for almost an hour.

    I make sure what he wants to pack is available and he has packed reasonable lunches since he started school. (If I packed it he would flat out NOT eat it, no matter what. Mostly b.c he didn't pick it that day).

    I have been amazed, even though he is older than your son. He even makes sure his library books are taken care of!

    There is hope!

  8. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    SRL is spot on about children not necessarily being ready when the calendar says they should be. Until they're ready, they need support. Tell husband that he needs to change his expectations. It doesn't mean his son is 'slow' in other ways, he could be a child genius but still have real trouble organising himself. he just needs help. husband & I had a flatmate, a good friend who really WAS a genius. He also was very slow in what he did, and a disaster in the kitchen. I gave up trying to teach our friend to cook when he burnt the chicken stock. I'd put a chicken carcass in a pot full of water on the stove right next to him, I said, "Turn to to LOW when it boils, turn it off after half an hour. We'll be gone all day."
    We got home that night to find him still sitting in the kitchen now full of smoke, the hot plate still on HIGH and glowing cherry red, and he looked up from his research papers and said, "Why are you back so soon?"
    Inside the saucepan was a little smouldering heap of ash. He simply had been too absorbed in what he was doing, to notice.
    And I think it could be the same with your son - there are too many things distracting him, things happening in his own head. I remember being like that myself and I see my boys like this. Even easy child had her moments, but was never slow with it - she was quicksilver.

    You wouldn't expect a 6 month old baby to jump up, run outside and check the mailbox for you, would you? In the same way, I suspect your son simply isn't ready to do all these things for himself, without constantly needing to be led by the hand and encouraged. Nagging only makes it worse. We nag partly to hurry them along, and partly because it relives our frustration. But when the nagging actually makes the problem worse, we have to change our tactics. It's not right to continue nagging when ALL it is doing (maybe) is easing our parental frustration. That's getting your own therapy at your child's expense. Instead, help him, ease him through it and AFTERWARDS go bang your head against the doorpost for a while.

    A suggestion, along the same lines as the others - make a chart for him, cover it with clear contact or get it laminated. You can then use a whiteboard pen to tick off tasks. Write the task and put a stylised picture next to it. Do it in order of the things to do. Put a time next to it if you choose, with a clock face as well.

    Of course he won't understand it all, but the combination of ways in which to understand it, especially if you show him how, will help.
    If, after making the chart, he finds it too 'busy' or confusing, then you can just cover up the bits he doesn't know yet, with post-it tape (or stickytape and paper) until he is a bit older. As he adapts to each challenge you can remove another bit of cover-up to keep him learning.
    You might need several charts, depending on how much trouble he is having. If he really has to stop and think about putting socks on before shoes, then break the 'getting dressed' tasks down for him as far as he needs.
    I used to 'race' my kids. It worked for some, but not for difficult child 3 because it makes him too anxious. And when he gets anxious, he shuts down and can't do anything.

    Having to make too many choices can slow a kid down - if he can't decide what to wear, he will just stand there in front of the wardrobe and get lost in his own thoughts. On the other hand, some kids need to have some control over the choices that don't matter to us.

    Have you got your hands on "The Explosive Child" yet? Even if your child isn't the explosive type, the book can help you see the world from your child's point of view and this makes it easy to know how to get your child to do what you want.

    Having a reward for him, for getting through certain steps without too much trouble - the reward shouldn't be food-related or money-related, if you can avoid it. Something that worked well as a reward for difficult child 3 at this age - he loved to change the day on the calendar. His classroom had one of those cloth and velcro perpetual calendars, you attach the correct day, date and month with velcro. The school one was soft fabric, but you can make them so easily - from a sheet of paper with blu-tak to stick the correct things on, to laminated card with velcro dots - doesn't matter. Sometimes just letting him tick the chart when he finishes a task can be reward enough.

    Never make the reward bigger than you need to, and never engage in a battle you are not certain you can win. Better to not battle at all.

  9. aeditha17

    aeditha17 New Member

    I can honestly say I am dealing with the exact same thing. Our elementary school has been KGB-like in their enforcement of tardies, so you can imagine we were SERIOUS repeat offenders!! I am getting a Tourette's and ADHD kid with NO executive function WHATSOEVER and a 5 year old girl with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and ODD ready - AAARRRGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!
    We got the school (Finally!!) to suspend the ":30 seconds late is tardy, no matter what" rule, so that has taken some of the frantic behavior out of the mix and helps us with the anxiety level. Still doesn't help that our school's first bell is at 7:25 am - can anyone say "YAWN!"
    Here are my tricks:
    I get up at 6:00 and do all my stuff (packing lunches, drinking my required coffee, getting dressed, getting their clothes out and ready, checking backpacks, etc).
    At 7:00am, I wake Aedan (who has slept in his clothes for the day) and get him at least sitting up. I then go wake Tab and dress her while she is still half asleep (makes the sensory issues less because she isn't as aware - diry little trick, I know!!!)
    I buy breakfast that the kids can eat in the car, so all they have to do is brush teeth, hair and put on their shoes and then we are out the door. I find Tab is less likely to have some of her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behaviors is she's groggy (I AM awful!).

    Bottom line is I let go of the need to have full-blown breakfast at the table. They usually get egg and cheese breakfast tacos with a juice box on the way to school. I guess I have resorted to shock value - we are in the car before we are completely awake! This is a total survival tactic and I hope to migrate away from it, but it works.

    Hope this helps.
  10. Lulu

    Lulu New Member

    Brandi, I am in love with your morning method. I may have to try it next year, as Kindy will start at 8:05 for N. That is an hour [duh--I typed later but I meant earlier!] than preschool this year, and we are sometimes late as it is!
  11. aeditha17

    aeditha17 New Member

    I can honestly say it has taken the better part of this entire school year to get to this point. I just had to decide that whatever works, works! I can't tell you how often I beat myself up because we weren't having the picturesque Norman Rockwell family at home experience. We are who we are.