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    Childrearing #7

    July 26, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Use a timer or a race to combat dawdling.

    Dawdling can be caused by rebellion {my husband often says that delayed obedience is really disobedience}, or by daydreaming. Sometimes it is hard to decipher where perhaps rebellion started the problem, but then daydreaming prolonged it. Or vice versa. But needless to say, children {and even some adults} can develop habits that cause a task to take far longer than necessary to be accomplished.

    As a disclaimer, I must say that I do not think I yet have a true dawdler on my hands. I don’t know if this is because dawdling is in fact a bad habit that parents allow to develop into a character flaw, or because we simply haven’t encountered that personality in our family. However, all children will dawdle from time to time. The question is what to do.

    Of course, there is always discipline. But I have found that setting a timer has often worked. If there is a task that I know my son will be tempted to delay completing, I don’t even allow him to entertain the thought. I will introduce the task by saying that I am setting the timer and he needs to be done with said task before the timer goes off.

    As a helpful sidenote…I use the timer on my microwave {which is really what our microwave is–a big, expensive timer!} because it has buttons to adjust the time without the child knowing. “More” adds ten seconds, and “Less” will subtract the same amount. I cannot say how much this has saved me from the possiblity of being tempted to discipline a child for my own miscalcuations in how long a given task should take.

    Another tactic I use is The Race. There are certain chores that E. and I both have. For instance, every morning we both make our beds. E. doesn’t always want to make his bed. When he is in That Sort of Mood, I tell him I think I can make my bed faster than he can. He tells me he thinks he is faster. Both beds are made in a hurry!

    I think the book Bringing Up Boys was where I first heard of this tactic. The example given was a son who refused to drink his milk, and it was a constant battle. But then he and his father started racing to see who could drink it fastest, and it became Great Fun. Since I want my child to enjoy having responsibilities, making something more enjoyable {by making it a race, for instance} is a solution I find more than acceptable.


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  • Reply Brandy July 26, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement, Kimbrah! I figure every mommy has her tricks…why not share? 🙂

    I hope your move goes smoothly this weekend! Sounds like the boys can start racing each other on the bed making front. Great fun! 🙂

    As far as being done with the series…I think this will come and go until my kids are grown and gone! I actually consider it a long-term project. I have toyed with the idea of printing it all off for baby showers for my daughter/daughter-in-law someday in the distant future. 🙂 It started with a great bang because there were a number of things I was thinking might be helpful to share, but now I think it will happen with less frequency…since I already wrote out all the good stuff. 🙂

  • Reply Kimbrah July 26, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    Have I told you how much I love and appreciate this series that you are doing Brandy? I think my favorite one so far is the clothes idea. I have been telling all of my friends about it and when we move tomorrow I am implementing it with our boys (once things get a bit more settled). They are finally going to have their own room (not just one we created by dividing our room with bookcases!)

    I like this idea, too. On simple instructions I only give them once and expect them to be obeyed immediately by Karlos who is the oldest. I try to require the same from the youngest, too, but sometimes it takes a little bit more hands on involvement because he is so young. But this idea is great for picking up toys and bed making (which we will actually have now that Karlos and Bobby will both be in Big Boy beds).

    Thanks again for the great tips! Let me know when you are close to done with this series because I want to link to the index on my blog.

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