Homeschooled Children Who Dawdle



Marle and Katie asked what to do about their dawdlers.  Seems every child tends to take his time with an unpleasant task at one point or another, eh?  But then, so do I.

I think it boils down to two things: the child's heart, and mom's heart.  I know, you probably didn't want to hear that last one but it's true.  Sometimes we are impatient because we know we can do the job better and faster than our children, especially the preschoolers.

I can't say I've always handled this well, but depending on the child and the circumstances I have:

1. Told them I would read aloud to them while they worked.  Actually, we do this a lot and they really like it.  Keeps them on the task, avoids potential arguments they might have while dividing tasks, and makes me less prone to being impatient.  Also kills two birds with one stone (reading aloud and accomplishing the task).

2. Gone into another room with a magazine, flopped down on the couch and announced, "You can take as long as you want to, but I'm just going to sit here and enjoy my magazine.  It's not my time you're wasting, it's yours."  This has some sort of odd psychological affect, as well.  If I suddenly act like I don't care, they suddenly do care.

3. Told them that they have a set amount of time to complete the task.  For every minute they have left over after the task is complete, they get a quarter (or an extra minute staying up that night, or whatever). For every minute they go over the allotted time, they pay me a quarter.  Finances are always a good motivator.

4. I tend to make sure there is some reason they want to get their chores done.  Typically I schedule something good after chores, like taking a walk, or stopping by to say hi to grandparents who live next door, or a quick dance time when I turn up the stereo and we all dance like idiots.  They love to dance like idiots. 

5.  Made them copy all the verses pertaining to work and/or laziness contained in the Bible.  This makes the boys squirm.  Pencil aversions, dontcha know.


6. But the best solution, hands down, has been when I simply say, "OK. Go ahead and get on your bed until you're ready to work without fussing/arguing/whining." They tend to excuse themselves but they've always returned within about 30 minutes.