My daughter is 4.5 and will be starting Kindergarten this fall. She can pick out her clothes without needing much help. However, some mornings I have to stand over her to get her to dress in a timely fashion. If I turn my back to take care of my son or do anything else, she stops dressing and starts playing. Right now I deal with it by cancelling planned outings or something like that. But I won't be able to make her miss school if she takes too long dressing (or rather I don't want to send the message that she will be able to skip school if she dawdles). Any ideas on how I can get her to dress faster in the mornings?

asked 27 Apr '10, 14:50

mkcoehoorn's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%


Good luck finding a way of dealing with this. My 8 year old is still the world's worst procrastinator. Mind you, my mother used to say that my motto was "Procrastinate Now!".

(27 Apr '10, 18:44) Meg Stephenson

Our daughter would stretch the time between finishing her breakfast and going to the bathroom to brush her teeth in similar ways...playing and talking. We had and still have a deadline because she simply must be ready and downstairs for the school service bus to pick her up.

Full credit due to my husband who came up with the great idea of telling her, I bet you can't finish your breakfast and be in the bathroom by the time I can count to 30, or if she is playing around in the bathroom and not focusing on brushing her teeth, he would say I wonder if you can finish brushing your teeth before I can count to 50.

So he makes it like a game, a kind of race for her, and it seems to work really well. We try to avoid doing it everyday so that the game will retain its excitement factor for her.

Perhaps you could give this a try, and time her while she is dressing.

Also we find that we prefer to let her eat breakfast alone, and prefer to help her dress, (that works out quicker for us generally)

Good luck!


answered 27 Apr '10, 16:55

Emi's gravatar image

accept rate: 19%


+1 I often tell my son can you get to ... before me and it works. We sometimes use a timer and say can you do it before the timer goes off. We also use it to say that when the timer goes off you need to go and get dressed.

(28 Apr '10, 01:20) K D

This might be a good sticker chart thing. You could try offering a sticker on her "practicing getting ready for school" chart for getting dressed by herself without being prompted (read nagged!), while you're getting her little brother dressed. (I'd make it that she has to be completely dressed before he is to get the sticker!) A new skipping rope or bottle of bubble stuff for however-many stickers you decide seems like a good reward for practicing the discipline she'll need to get ready for kindergarten.


answered 28 Apr '10, 01:13

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

+1 -- I'm a big fan of the sticker charts.

(29 Apr '10, 16:50) lgritz

We have the same issue here and I often end up dressing my son because it is quicker.

I know lots of friends who have a checklist of what their kids need to do in the morning. i.e breakfast, dress, brush teeth, get bag ready. They use pictures for their little ones and then put a sticker or tick in the box when each one is complete. Then perhaps a reward for being ready on time. This is one we are going to start trying here. I know you can buy ones (I am trying to find one online) or make your own.

It is also a good idea to start practicing now so you are ready when kindergarten starts.


answered 28 Apr '10, 01:31

K%20D's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

I have a slightly different take on this one. Getting children ready for anything is notoriously difficult. And the more you are in a hurry, the slower they go (or is that just an impression?)

Maybe they are passively resisting the "go faster" messages that we are sending them. Which society imposes on us.

There are clearly times when we have to go faster, but maybe we should also resist sometimes?

Apart from all the other solutions already offered here, another one is just to start earlier. Or have her sleep in her clothes :)

From their perspective, we also surely dawdle, when they want something right now!


answered 28 Apr '10, 05:32

Benjol's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

+1 @Benjol, when my older boys were small and had to be at daycare by 7:30 every morning so I could catch the bus for work my second oldest often slept in his underwear and a clean t-shirt so all he had to do was put on his pants and socks in the morning. (7 am was just waaay to early for him! Luckily they would get breakfast at daycare or it don't think it would have worked at all.)

(30 Apr '10, 14:53) Neen

Taking a page from Getting Things Done, what about analyzing what obstacles are in her way? Are the clothes in several different places (socks in the drawer, shirts in the closet) so that assembling an outfit is complicated? Maybe, even though she can do it, she finds it enough effort to pick out an outfit that she doesn't have any will-power left to actually put it on. Maybe having her pick it out the night before would leave her morning task less complicated.

Another possibility: Get her up a few minutes earlier, and tell her (if she likes stories) that if she gets dressed and there's still time, you'll read her a story before school. If she takes too long, she still has to get ready, but no story. I use this with my son at bedtime, and it usually works. (I'm not sure there's any method with kids that works 100% of the time!)


answered 28 Apr '10, 15:12

Kyralessa's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

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Asked: 27 Apr '10, 14:50

Seen: 4,973 times

Last updated: 28 Apr '10, 15:12