18 answers

6 Year Old Takes FOREVER to Get Ready

Hey there moms. My 6 year old takes forever to get ready. I set her alarm 15 minutes earlier so she can start her day doing something she wants to do before the official school routine starts (usually she wants to watch part of a cartoon) but she still moves so slowly. My problem is that I tend to repeat myself asking her to move along. I can get so frustrated! GRRRRRRR! So, for those parents who also have kids who are slow paced, how do you motivate THEM to get going? Specifically, what incentives and consequences do you use? I am especially interested in hearing from you parents who use Love and Logic. What do you do? I want her to be on time for school and I want to be frustrated. Oh yeah, what do you do to stay calm as a mom? How do you stop that anger from getting the best of you?

Please "keep it real" in your responses. Thanks!

What can I do next?

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I go in and wake my 7 year old up by tickling him and taking off his pj's for him. It gets him moving and starts the day off right. If he doesn't want to get dressed I just tell him he will go to school in whatever it is he is wearing. I don't get upset because I'm leaving the choice in his hands. He's not to keen on going to school in his underwear with no shoes or socks, especially when it's cold out. I still help him get everything organized and together before getting to the bus but it isn't as much of a struggle as it used to be. He only gets tv if he is completely ready and there is extra time.

Good luck - S.

1 mom found this helpful

Move the get ready routine to the beginning and she can have free time when she is finished. I also use music. We have a get up and ready song that I play each morning. When they are finished getting ready and had breakfast, they can have whatever time that is left over to do what they want before it's time to head out the door.

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I have the pokiest 5 year old ever!! What we do as soon as he gets up is keep him moving. I can't let him get to comfy in one spot. We get up at 6:30am and thats "eating time" I am constantly telling him ok 30 min to eat-25 min and eating time is done etc every 5 min until time is out.

When eating time is done......its done. We move on to brushing time 7:00am to 7:10am again the countdown, I try to have him brush himself but if he is too pokey I will go in the bathroom and give his teeth a quick swipe.

7:10-7:20 dressing time. I lay his clothes out for him the night before and he only hast to take his PJs off and put his clothes on. Again I have to keep harping to keep moving and how many minutes are left.

7:20-7:30- Getting snowpants-boots-coat and hat on and grabbing backpack on the way out the door.

We leave at 7:30 am every morning.
He's getting better, I think he gets tired of hearing my voice all morning lol so do I, but its not forever.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Why not just flip her 15 minutes of "fun" (t.v. time, or playing) to after she is COMPLETELY ready, instead of right when she wakes up. My oldest is 4 1/2 and he is not allowed to watch "his shows" until he's eaten breakfast and is fully dressed. This is good motivation for him, and I don't care if he gets to watch t.v. or not!

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My daughter has ADHD and at nine years old, she is still very pokey!!! What has worked for us (when consistent), is a reward system in which points are tallied at the end of the day for specific tasks i.e. getting ready on time, putting backpack in her room when she gets home from school etc.
We give her "tokens" at the end of each day depending on how many tasks she did on her own. When she gets a certain amount she can "buy" things such as extra tv time, trip to Dollar Store, staying up late on weekend etc.

The way we measure her "getting ready on time" is by creating a simple, basic list of things she needs to do each morning i.e. get dressed, brush teeth, go potty, brush hair. She is responsible for checking them off as she goes and if she completes her list without any help from me, she gets the points for it.

I do not think it is ever to early to teach responsibility and it makes them feel good to not have us nagging all morning and makes us feel good!! If your daughter is to young to read task list, use pictures or something. If it doesn't work, don't give up. Tweek it to correct trouble areas until it works for both of you.

Through my daughter's ADHD, I have become a big advocate of positive reinforcement and reward systems. Those who say that we shouldn't "bribe our children" and they should just do things because they are "supposed to", should ask themselves if they would still go to work without their paycheck as a reward.

Good Luck!!!


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Hi! You've gotten some great responses. I also don't allow tv time until after my 6 1/2 year old is all ready to go. I still do quite a bit of the laying out of boots, snowpants, making sure she has morning snack packed, library books, etc., but will gradually hand over some of those responsbilities. She used to take a long time getting dressed in the morning and would complain on cold days that she didn't want to wear jeans (cold when you first put them on), so one day I thought I'd give her a treat and put her clothes in the dryer for 2 minutes. Now, it's part of our routine and she gets dressed really fast. She comes down for breakfast in pj's and when she's just about done with breakfast, I put her clothes in the dryer and set the timer for 2 minutes. At the beep, she runs over to the dryer and pulls out the clothes and gets dressed fast while they are still warm. I'll probably need a new plan to keep her speedy when summer comes next year, but for now, it works for us. I'm just starting to learn about Love and Logic, so I don't have any specifics along those lines. Oh, I also use an alarm on my cell phone. I have one alarm set that goes off 10 minutes or so before I want her to get up... I put it on the stairs when it starts to ring so that is kind of an alarm clock for her. THen it rings every 5 minutes and if necessary, I go up and make sure she's waking up... most days she wakes up, goes potty and comes right down for breakfast. I also have one go off when it's time for breakfast... to keep us on track. The last one goes off 10 minutes before we leave for the bus... the first time we hear it, it's time to wrap everything up, grab any last minute items, get dressed if we were running a little late, etc. the 2nd time the alarm goes off (5 min. before going out the door), final call for all the last things... and getting coats on, etc... (I'm getting a 1 1/2 year old ready at the same time)... we're in car then by the time the alarm goes off the last time. I speed this up a little bit if we're going to walk to the bus stop as we need a few extra minutes, but 3 days a week, I drive to work after the bus comes, so it works well. Some days I lose patience because something didn't go as planned... On those days, I try to apologize to my daughter and I'm sure to praise her and us on days when we do really well with our patience and timing. Hope this helps.

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I heard once of a mom who bought a cheap clock (one that you can take the face off of) and painted it into sections, or wedges for bedtime and waketime. Theoretically you could do the same for the morning routine. I would probably to 10-15 minute 'wedges' so that during one color wedge, it's cartoon time, when the minute hand moves to another color it's dressing time, etc...that way she would know what is expected of her and would be able to be proactive instead of reactive to your urging her along. Kids do amazing things when they start to gain some control!


1 mom found this helpful

I go in and wake my 7 year old up by tickling him and taking off his pj's for him. It gets him moving and starts the day off right. If he doesn't want to get dressed I just tell him he will go to school in whatever it is he is wearing. I don't get upset because I'm leaving the choice in his hands. He's not to keen on going to school in his underwear with no shoes or socks, especially when it's cold out. I still help him get everything organized and together before getting to the bus but it isn't as much of a struggle as it used to be. He only gets tv if he is completely ready and there is extra time.

Good luck - S.

1 mom found this helpful

N.; first of all i have a son just like that, and has been that way alot of the time, at 6 i would think you can still help them get dressed, have things laid our the night before, have their room kept clean, disorganized areas can affect their attitude, also keep the tv off, if they want to watch their show, or play computer games, they must do what they are supposed to do, my son is now 14 and still very much slower than everyone else in the morning, especially , we have a rule that no tv before going to school, unless, you are dressed , eaten and homework is done, also we make the rule no computers , tv or games after school either, until their homework is done , and perhaps chores, that need doing, escpecially older ones who have chores, they get plenty of time to play games and watch tv once they have learned to get what is needed first like gettting dressed, if they love to watch tv like first thing in morning , you can do two things, if you leave tv on, then get them up earlier, let them wake up with one show, and then get ready , or dont even turn it on, or dont turn it on till they are dressed and ready to go, but if tv is on, they wont leave in middle of show, so its a timing thing, however, all you can do it make it nice for them, before going to bed, set it up so you get all that they need for the morning, even setting out bowls for breakfast and clothes and such, that way when they wake up its all ready , but yeah its very hard not to yell at them, and not to hurry them up,, but some yelling does happen, and so does hurrying them up, i understand your frustration, just plan ahead and i would leave tv off till they are ready , and when you turn it on , after they are dressed and ready , let them know ok but we wont be able to finsih watching the show but you got 15 minutes, or whatever, just enjoy them and help them, D. s

1 mom found this helpful

Move the get ready routine to the beginning and she can have free time when she is finished. I also use music. We have a get up and ready song that I play each morning. When they are finished getting ready and had breakfast, they can have whatever time that is left over to do what they want before it's time to head out the door.

1 mom found this helpful

Instead of starting her day with a cartoon why not get her up and set a timer for her to get ready before it dings and then if she can do that she can watch 10 minutes of tv before it's time to go...just a quick thought I had when I read your struggle...it's a hard one, my 2 year old can already be a straggler...I just shut her door with her clothes and keep checking in on her..but we have less of a time constraint to get ready in the morning, and she's 2 so she does need help sometime. Basically, I'm not where you're at yet, but maybe that will help. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

N. - what do you expect her to do? Many little ones are slow in the morning. You need to help her get dressed, help her eat her breakfast etc - she's only six! Maybe there are some parents who expect first graders to do everything themselves but I think it's less frustrating to help them with their clothes, put on their shoes - pretty much everything - until they're older. I think your mornings will run smoother if you just accept she's little and a sleepyhead than thinking of consequences etc. Good luck - Alison

My 6 year old son can also be that way. I kinda go to the extreme, I wake him an hour and a half before he needs to leave. His routine is to get right in the shower, this seems to wake him up and get him energized. After he gets dressed he puts his robe on over his school clothes to eat so that he doesn't get them dirty. Then he he goes to the bathroom and brushes his teeth and then whatever time is left over before his ride gets here he can do what he wants.... watch cartoons, draw, play, whatever! When his ride gets here he is ready to go. It has worked for us, I hate power struggles, so I try to avoid them whenever I can! :) Good Luck, I hope this helps you!


With a child that young you really have to be right with her helping her with dressing, brushing her teeth, those sort of things. She has no concept of time and being late for school. I had to do this with my boys until almost middle school. She will learn over time to try to meet deadlines but it will take a couple more years if she is like any other normal child. Until then don't put the burden of being ready for school, having all the things she needs ready on her alone, I bet she doesn't even tell time yet. As for staying calm when you are frustrated, just remember she is a brand new little person, only been on this earth for six years compared to your how many? That helps put things in perspective for me.


We live in the country so my children take the bus to school. My rule is....I get you up in plenty of time to get ready. If you choose to sit around naked or goof around and we miss the bus I will drive you to town (where there is a sidewalk) and you can walk to school. I follow in the van with my 4 ways on to make sure they are safe and get out to help them cross he street. Then I go in with them to sign in explain why they are late and send them off to class.
Is it a Pain to do for me instead of just putting them on the bus....YES it is but my children ( mostly my oldest when he was in K only had to do it 2 times and we never missed the bus again.

If you drive her you can call yourself the Mommy bus and leave on time.

I don't yell, prod, remind anything. They lay it all out the night before. If they have gotten ready, made their beds, done AM chores( dishes , laundry, feeding pets). before breakfast time they can watch TV for the 10 minutes it takes me to get breakfast ready. After breakfast they recheck their backpacks for boots, gloves, tennis shoes, lunch, water bottle, hats. Get dressed and we drive or walk to the bus stop. I used to get them up 1 1/2 hour before the bus but this year they can get it done in 1 hr.

It has made them responsible for themselves not putting the responsibility on me to "get them ready" Good luck

When my first was 6, there were two younger children as well and we HAD to be out of the house at 7 AM. It was a struggle at times, but here's what worked for me. QUIT nagging. We had a talk that she needed to be responsible for getting herself ready and "there were three of them and only 1 of me". We talked about what she had to do and how long it would take. Let her decide how long. Then shut up. THis is very hard. I give (and still do 8 years later) a 5 minute warning. Then ready or not...we leave at 7. If they forget things, that their consequence. As a parent don't be responsible for their papers, library books or you'll be responsible forever. I tell me kids that it is their job! My daughter (the slow mover) has also missed the bus and I didn't just take her to school. What would she learn then. I had her pay me for taking time of my job and then took her to school just at the bell. It has only happened once in two years. She now plans ahead but it is something she needs to learn. My younger two don't dawdle as much, but the example and routine is consistent for all three. Including their dad. My kids now ask when we are leaving and figure out from there when they need to get started. It's hard for me to not nag when they are still sitting, but our rule is the bus leaves at the designated time or you pay or we just leave! Stay consistent.

I'm going to admit to skimming some of the responses, so forgive me if I repeat too much. First, I agree that you might want to give her the 15 minutes after she has done everything else. My daughter is almost 4, but when she seems to be the same. When the tv is on...there is no getting through...she is too focused on the tv. And, once it's on, she argues over "just one more show"..."five more minutes?", etc. So, I set her clothes out, get her set with everything she needs to do and then, if she has the time, she can have the reward. The days that doesn't happen (and this is for everything, not just getting ready in the morning), she knows that the reason she didn't get to do what she wanted was because she took too long doing what needed to be done. We also have a chart hanging where she can keep track of the things she is supposed to do and gets a magnetic sticker when she completes them. When the week is over and the chart is full, she has yet another reward to look forward to! Give it a try...at her age, she will be proud of her successes if she can see them in front of her and have something to look forward to!

Cut the cartoon part. If she drags her feet enough that you set the alarm for 15 minutes earlier, FIRST THINGS FIRST! She gets ready, eats, etc. The preliminaries. THEN if there's excess time she can watch a cartoon. But you're in charge. Don't play into her bad habits. You have to structure it for her. Is it all that important to watch a cartoon? No. The plan is get her ready for school, not tv time.

Wait till she's out the door and THEN vent, so she doesn't have to watch. It could mame her self esteem. But to stay calm means to come up with a routine that gets the job done and keeps you calm. Maybe lay out the next day's clothes the night before so it goes a little faster. Let her help, to make it fun.

I think you found the key to answering your questions when you said "how do I motivate her?" You are motivated to get dressed and get ready so you are not late. (It is embarrasing for you to show up late but she feels none of this) This is why you are so angry. When my daughter was 5 and 6 she was the same way. Now that she is 7 there are no more problems. She is now very concerned with not being late and she does everything independently. My 5 year old son is now the one lagging behind. My point is that this will work its self out, with time, as your daughter matures. Until then you could try;

Making sure she is getting enough sleep. (My daughter needs 11 hours while my son only needs 9 1/2-10 hours) She should wake up on her own when she is fully rested. Most days my kids are already awake when I come into their rooms.

Give her a massage to help wake her up. My daugher loves this.

Dress her even though she can do it herself. Both my kids liked the extra attention when they were 5 and 6. I will also, if needed, put on their shoes, coat, and hat, and mittens. (It used to make me so angry. Why should I do it for them? I thought they need to learn to do it on their own. I would nag and nag and still it wouldn't get done. Instead, I now have them do these things, independently, in the afternoon and evening when they are more awake and in better moods and we are not so pressed for time)

Make something for breakfast that she really wants to eat.

Make sure you are giving her enough time to do all that is expected of her. Each kid is different. Use a routine so that she knows what she has to do next.

For you to stop being angry, you must let go of the outcome. Sometimes, she will be late. Make sure that she has a consequence that impacts her(ex. no TV). You could budget in a 15-20 minute buffer so that even if she is late, it will not make you late for work. Then it becomes her consequence not yours.

Let her watch TV when everything else is done. My kids get to watch 10 minutes of cartoons if they are all ready and we have extra time. If they are moving a little slow, I remind them of their opportunity.

It only took me about 3 years to learn these things. I'm happy to say that we are all much happier in the mornings. Believe it or not, we are usually on time.

Good Luck.


Still let her get up 15 minutes early, but don't let her watch the cartoon until AFTER she finishes her morning routine; then let her be rewarded with the cartoon. Doesn't finish? Then no cartoon.
You could also make a chart with her tasks and time they need to be completed,then with each task completed you would reward her with a star or token. After an accumulation of tokens, reward the "staying on track" by redeeming her tokens with something special; time with you eating ice cream, trip to dollar store, etc.
She is pretty young, so you may need to walk with her through it several times before she can do it on her own.
If a chart is not really working, you could also try a "pocket chore chart". Write and/or draw the task she needs to complete on 3x5 cards; (example brush hair, brush teeth, etc.) insert them into one pocket, then when she completes the task have her move the card to the "completed chores pocket".
These are just ideas to consider.

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