28 answers

Getting My Daughter Out the Door in the Morning

Hello Mamas! I really could use your help on this one. My 4 year old daughter is generally very well behaved, but some mornings she just won't get ready for preschool. She loves school and I am sure this is not the cause of her procrastination. I have to stay on top of her every single minute to get her dressed, brush her teeth, etc. The minute my eyes are off her, she's playing or daydreaming. Even when I am constantly prompting her, she gets annoyed and becomes more uncooperative. I have changed hours at my job twice to try to accomodate her slow-to-go issues. I simply don't have anymore flexibility in that area. My tardiness will soon be a problem. I have tried helping her in the mornings, giving her tons of praise and support. I have tried taking away tv & video games in the evenings (they are banned in the mornings). I have tried rewarding her for days we get out the door on time. Nothing seems to work. I end up feeling drawn into a power struggle and being bullied. Unfortunately, she simply can't dictate when our days begin and when we get to work & school. In the end I end up screaming & yelling like a mad woman. There have been days where I felt like I was going to snap (only a handful of these). I hate yelling at her - it really gets to me and I know its not the most constructive way of resolving the situation. This is not the way I want to interact with my daughter or the behavior I want to model. How do you mamas get your uncooperative kids out the door in the morning? What methods do you employ? I am desparate for some constructive/positive suggestions.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to all you mamas for the great response. Knowing I'm not alone is a big help. I talked with my daughter about communications and cooperation. Without these two things, there is not a plan that will succeed. She promises to ask for help or tell me how she's feeling right away (not after we're a half hour late and already screaming). I promise to be available to help her (whether its to pick out yet another outfit or find a lost stuffed animal that suddenly needs to be found). We can get out the door (& have) at a reasonable time when we work together. I do appreciate all the time-saving tips, though, as I am always looking for ways to make the mornings easier.

Featured Answers

At night before bed have her help you pick out her clothes for the morning then have her give you her opinion on what you should wear for work the next day.

I had the same problem with my daughter when she was that age. I used to give her a bath and let her sleep in her clothes she was going to wear to school the next day. It was sooooo much easier than the power struggles we would have. That way, I could concentrate on other things she needed to do like have breakfast and brush her teeth and hair.

It worked for us! Hope this helps!

Have you tried putting a timer on ?
My daughter is 3 and I was having problems with her getting out the door also! So I put the timer on the oven on for 10 minutes and when it gets to the 1 minute left it makes a beep - when that beep goes off, She has to try and beat the clock to the last seconds before it goes off!!!! It's fun ! Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't - but it's worth a shot and it aids in reducing the stress for everyone!

Good luck Mama

More Answers

Let her go to school in her pj's and teeth unbrushed if she chooses to. I bet she will change her mind about it. Let it be her choice. Is there really any reason to have the power struggle? If she experiences naturally occurring results of her choices she is most likely going to show you just how amazingly smart and motivated she can be.

1 mom found this helpful

I now have the same problem. My son was a lot quicker and easier when he was younger. Now that he's older he's slower. I have learned that not everyone is a morning bird like me, that jumps out of bed ready to go. I have also learned that you need to observe and understand what is going on and why the child is slow. I found out that my son likes to have an advanced "warning" that it's time to wake up, then a 10 min. "snooze alarm." I line up his clothing when I do the advanced wake-up call. Then I go back up 10-15 min. later to make sure he's getting dressed. (Usually he is.) If not, I act like I'm in a hurry and let him know his "smooze alarm" already went off. (He will jump out of bed then.) I make sure he has at least 30 min. to eat breakfast, because he's a slow eater. Then I have him brush his teeth after breakfast the same time I do. All homework and books are already packed and ready the night before.

Everyone in my house, including hubby knows that morning is rush hour so you better be quick or Mommy turns into a drill sargent. ("Get moving soldier, one, two...) It can be fun being a drill sargent. Daddy is not allowed to yell at sonny boy in the morning, because it becomes a personal attack rather than pushing to get him going. (There's a difference: "Why are you so slow!" vs. "Let's get the ball rolling." and you get 2 different responses from the child...The first one gets crying and more slowness...The second one gets him moving.)I also let them know if they are a few minutes late getting in the car and will probably do better tomorrow or just right.

As a parent I feel I have to be responible too. I know that if I don't get up early enough, I will not have everything in place to get the show on the road. Somtimes you need to make a sacifice of getting up early than you'd like. I'm up at 5:30AM. I'm dressed by 5:55AM-6:00AM. (That includes face washed, hair combed, and make-up.) Then I get the lunches packed, let out the dog, let the dog back in, cat litter duty, and prepare the garbage. At 6:30AM I become the rooster and run upstairs to give the first wake up warning to my son and hubby. Then I make the breakfasts. If I dont' hear any feet by 6:50AM, I check on my son. Then we all sit down to eat. At 7:15AM my son and I brush our teeth. (Good thing we have 2 bathrooms.) Hubby's a very slow eater. After we're done, I go warm up the car while hubby brushes his teeth. My son comes out to the car before my hubby, so I can then do the reminder stuff like...."Don't forget your science tonight, you have a test tomorrow...." Everybody's in the car by 7:40AM-7:45AM and off we go to school and work...on time.

You don't say what her bedtime is at night. I found with my son that an earlier bedtime made the morning routine go more smoothly. Don't change it by more than 15 minutes at a time or she'll notice and fight it. Eventually she'll be rested enough to be more 'with the program' in the morning and you'll know you've found the correct bedtime for her needs. Both my 10-yo son and 3-yo daughter are in bed by 8:30 every night (she takes a nap so she gets the total number of hours she needs). When he was 5-7 years old his bedtime was 7:30, not easy in the summer months, but necessary.

Also, I've used TV in the morning as a reward for getting ready in a timely manner. "If everything is done quickly you can watch ____ until it's time to leave at 7:30."

Hi A.,
Glad to know it's not just our house! Know that you're not alone in this struggle.

A few things we've done is put her pants/shorts and shirts in low drawers and let her pick. Yes, she has gone to school in lime green sweat pants, stepped shirt with princess socks and purple shoes but she was willing to get dressed.

Another thing I did was make a "Get Ready" Chart for our fridge. I took Popsicle sticks painted them purple (her favorite) and wrote "I Did It!" and the days of the week on the other sticks (each with their own color) and glued magnets on the back. On the chart I put "Kara's Get Ready Chart - Today is" at the top and then below stickers with clothing (shirts, pants, socks/shoes and even a dress). We go through it each morning, what day is it and did she put on that article of clothing. Her "prize" is what she calls a gummie which is her vitamin. This way she feels like she accomplished something, she's learning the days of the week, and she's taking her vitamins. I win all around! Does it always work? No but most days it does.

Hang in there. Just think, she's an independent little girl that's going to grow up into a strong woman who's not going to take anything from anyone. :-)


I feel your pain A.. I have two daughters 7 and 5. And Mornings are a nightmare. It sounded like you were describing me! The only thing I can suggest is have a plan in place. Let your daughter know as soon as you wake up you brush your teeth, then get dressed etc. Good luck and let me know how it goes!!!

I had the same problem with my daughter when she was that age. I used to give her a bath and let her sleep in her clothes she was going to wear to school the next day. It was sooooo much easier than the power struggles we would have. That way, I could concentrate on other things she needed to do like have breakfast and brush her teeth and hair.

It worked for us! Hope this helps!

Hi A.:

I know this isn't a wonderful solution, but my daughter's preschool teacher had me bring her to preschool in her pajamas on those morning. And since all she had to do was brush her teeth & hair and hygiene issues, she was much more cooperative. It made out mornings much more pleasant.

Now that she's in 1st grade, I often have her brush her hair & eat her breakfast in the car. Again, not the ideal, but it makes our mornings move smoother.

Good luck.

I agree with the past poster let her see the consequences to her actions. Take her in her pj's I guarantee you she will be on time tomorrow. I own a preschool and I see the way parent's cater to their kids behavior everyday. Why is it we let our kids parent us. Why do we have to give a reward for getting dressed? Rewards should be for doing something wonderful and kind? For getting a good report at school not because they obeyed us. I know we all want to be the best parents we can and try not to yell and try not to get angry but guess what it happens. Punishment should not be kind it needs to really hit home and be effective. I say don't yell and scream just warn her if she does not get dressed she will go to school in her pj's and then do it. She will be furious but she will get the message. If you give a warning and follow through with any type of discipline you usually only have to do it once. Kids catch on quickly that mom means business. This is the part of parenting that SUCKS and really tests your strengths. Children can wear us down and they know that. Do not try to accommodate your daughter because life is not accommodating and trust me her teachers down the line will not wait until she is ready to listen to them. They will not follow her around and make sure she accomplishes her tasks. Handling this now will teach her she needs to listen when she is told to do something and it will help and teach her to have respect for her teachers, and all adults. The last thing you want is for this behavior to carry on. If you can't get her to listen at 4 she will never listen at 14. Sorry to be so strong but I work with children all day and I see children controlling their parents everyday and they just look at me like they have been defeated. Consistency and Consequence that is the only method and advice I give to all of my parents. Good luck!!!

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