Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keeping a Preschooler on Task

In my house, clothes time (getting dressed for the day) and jammie time (pre-bedtime routine) have become major sources of stress.  My four year old is such a dawdler (we call it "dinkin' around") - which is fine on the rare occasions when there's no schedule to keep.  It seems that no matter how much extra time I allow for these tasks there's never quite enough time to accomodate her desire to do a bunch of dance moves before sitting down to get her pants on ("Mom, watch this!") or roll along the wall instead of walking straight over to the drawer...If you have kids I'm sure you know just what I'm talking about.  

Jammie time and clothes time were turning into a giant nag-fest with me doing all the nagging (I tried to call it "reminding" but really it's nagging) and my daughter getting frustrated because she wants to do everything herself and feels that she doesn't need to be reminded.

So, I came up with a chore chart of sorts that helps Susannah to stay focused on the task at hand.  Here's how it works:  I have a basket that holds photos of each step (put your shirt on, put your pants on, put 2 books on your pillow for story time, etc.), and there's a magnet on the back of each one.  I use fabric-covered metal jar lids to display each step that she needs to accomplish and then I leave the room.  After a task is completed, she takes it down and puts it back into the basket and then moves on to the next "job picture." 

She feels totally independent because the job pictures subtly remind her of what she needs to be doing - much less damaging to the ego than a nagging mother!  She's motivated to complete the tasks in a timely manner because she likes beging able to "check them off" and feels so proud when the chart is empty.  It's much less frustrating for me because, even if there is some dinkin' going on between steps, I'm not there to witness it.  I'm somewhere nearby busy with a task of my own.


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  1. I could totally use one of those organizers "for myself" ;)
    It would be like having my own dressing maid :)

  2. That's FANTASTIC!!! I can just hear myself...."Quit Futzin' around!!!" So we will definitely be adopting this idea very soon!


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