32 answers

My Daughter Is the Pokiest Puppy Ever!!

I need some ideas on how to get my daughter moving in the morning. She is in Kindergarten and every morning is a battle getting her to get ready on time. If I am not constantly reminding her to wash up, brush teeth, etc she forgets what she is supposed to be doing. If I don't go in every few minutes while she is showering she will just stand in the shower for a very long time. (I let her do it on her own time once and she was in there for 35 minutes before washing her hair!) I also have a one year old that I have to get ready in the morning so I need her to be more independant so I don't have to nag all the time. I have tried using a timer, I have tried reminding her first thing that we need to concentrate on getting ready. I don't know what else to do and it is driving me crazy, and I hate nagging every morning because it puts everyone in a bad mood. Help!

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I don't know what to tell you. I have the same problem with my 9 year old daughter. She takes forever eating breakfast and she gets distracted doing anything. Anyone have any ideas?

I am the mother of seven children and THE BEST thing I have found to help kids get ready for the day and then ready for bed in the evening quickly is a CD called "Children's Miracle Music". It seriously is a miracle! Google it!

Here are some things that I do with my kids to get them ready faster in the mornings: Give her a bath or shower at night before bed rather than in the morning, you will save so much time. Lay out her outfit the night before. Fill her cereal bowl with dry cereal and put it on the table the night before, in the morning you just add the milk. Pack her lunch or whatever else she needs in her backpack the night before and place it right by the door so you can just grab it and go. Try and have everything together early so that you can take a couple of minutes for "cuddle time" before you have to leave, this will make the whole day better for both of you. Good luck, I hope that this helps!

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First of all, you are giving her waaaaaay too much to do for a kindergartner! Bathe her at night and get her bedtime down to a reasonable hour (8:00?).
Make a big deal about how big she is now, and get her her own alarm clock. Make her feel important doing things on her own. If she doesn't brush her teeth one morning, the world won't end, and her teeth won't fall out (at least until the first grade, anyway!)
Lay her clothes out together the night before so they are ready for her to just jump into. Give HER more power, and what she doesn't do, talk about that night. Ask her what she forgot, and what she can do in the morning to remember. Try REALLY hard not to nag her; it sounds like she is just tuning you out. If you aren't continually telling her what to do, she will rise to your expectations. If she chooses to stay undressed past a certain time, she goes to school in what she has on, unless it's her undies, of course. Let her school-mates help her be a little more motivated.
Can you get your littlest one ready before your kindergartner? That may give you a little more "less stressful" time for encouragement, not nagging. That seems to turn off the ears and make one helpless.
Let us know how it goes!

Does she have to shower in the morning? Showering in the evening may save time in the morning. Maybe a checklist so she knows how to do it and in what order? Laminate it so she can check each task off.

I know it sounds stupid, but does she know exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis before she goes to school? I have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees, if you will. I get overwhelmed if there are too many steps or too many tasks, and none of them get done. Just a thought!

Have you tried creating a visual list of what needs to happen each morning with a check-off list or a reward system.. we use tokens that can be used to watch TV or saved to do something else.. like going to the Zoo, family movie night, whatever.
I also wonder about moving the shower to the evening so your daughter can just get up and get dressed. It seems like that is one easy thing that you can easily move to nighttime and it can be a much more relaxing event.


I was browsing for some advise myself and came across this link. There are several suggestions from parents who are in your shoes. I hope you find something that works for your daughter.


Sounds to me like she needs to go to bed earlier, she should be in bed by 8pm. And my sisters and I always took bathes at night. That way my mom didn't have to deal with drying our hair before we went out in the cold. Make sure she is getting a healthy breakfast. If you eliminate the shower in the morning, maybe she could have time to do some stretches and jumping jacks. Get her moving and maybe she would feel more alert.

Ok L., maybe you need to simplify the morning routine. Try having her shower at night and also pick out her clothes. And make sure the homework is in the back pack and placed where it is easy to find. This seemed to work the best for our family hope it helps. Good luck!!

Hmm, Well My son is about to start kindergarden and first of all, how did you get your daughter to switch to showers?? :) Seems like that may be a bit too much morning routine for a child of her age. Perhaps switching to (or back to) evening showers, so you save some time there.

I run into the morning battle with my two boys and have tried out various routines. None are perfect, but I have found if I get them up at 6AM, they have plenty of time to wake up, watch a PBS show, eat, brush, etc. and we are out the door ususally by 7:45AM.

This means I wake up at 5:30, but it also helps me prepare for the day ahead and not being so rushed and cranky in the morning from nagging and being nagged makes everyone's day start out on a much better foot.
Good luck!

I am laughing just reading your post. I have a son who was late to everything until he joined the military and they fixed his "tardy" problem : ). We did make it to school on time until he was old enough to drive himself though. You have the right idea with the timer. Set the timer for when you plan on leaving the house and then be willing to stick to it. Let your daughter know in no uncertain terms that when the timer dings, you will put her in the car no matter what condition she is in. (Secretly pack a paper bag with some clothes, shoes, etc). Put her backpack in the car the night before. Then follow through with your promise! It only took my son 2 times of being dumped in the car in his underwear and having to finish dressing in the school parking lot to learn to be dressed before the timer dinged! But it only works if you are on time and have the other child ready. Good luck!

Hi L.. I have advice which is too late for you, I'm sorry, but might help your readers. Two of my three daughters were naturally late sleepers -- they could go to 9:30 or 10:00 AM occasionally, so I enrolled them in afternoon kindergarten so as not to screw up their sleep cycles. It worked beautifully for us.

I suggest that if you're deciding between morning and afternoon kindergarten, figure out what time you'd have to wake up your child in the morning, let's say 7:30 AM. If your child naturally sleeps past 7:30 AM, then consider afternoon kindergarten. It's an easy decision if you don't have real schedule constraints (as opposed to personal preferences).

Hi L., My daughter had the same problem. Then I read Parenting with Love and Logic and we got some great ideas on how to help. It took about a month before she did great everyday. I didn't like their original suggestion of just letting the child sleep and then missing school and having to stay in his/her room all day. But I do like their choices options and they suggest enforceable statements. So you can tell your daughter, would you like to shower for 10 minutes or 12 minutes, I will set your timer and then you can get out. If she doesn't wash herself in that amount of time, the shower still gets turned off when the timer goes. Or one that really works for us is would you like to eat first or get dressed first. My daughter likes to eat first. But then breakfast is only available for a certain time. I set the timer and then also say this is what time breakfast is over and this is what it looks like on the clock. Then I do the same thing for getting dressed. I even typed up a sheet with some pictures that have all the aspects of the morning on it... Get dressed, eat breakfast, make bed, brush teeth, brush hair, and make it to the bus on time. Another suggestion they have is to say my car is leaving at 7:45, you can get dressed before then or your clothes can go in the car in a bag. It is hard to get dressed in the car with a car seat, plus we catch the bus at the end of the street. So I just started saying we are walking out the door at 7:55, we would love if you would join us. There was about a week or so when she ran after her brother and me down the street and barely made the bus, but she made it. Her hair wasn't brushed, her teeth weren't brushed, and she hadn't eaten. It was a tough thing to do, but it really paid off in the long run and now she is much more responsible about getting ready on time. Also if she doesn't get ready by the timer then I can have an energy drain, which means she is draining my energy by taking too long to get ready so she will have to replenish it by doing chores or things for me around the house. It is hard at first and it feels like you are being mean by making her so uncomfortable, but it shifts the responsibility back to her and not you about getting ready. Also stop nagging. It only makes it worse. She is trying to get a reaction from you and it is working. If you take away all the anger and frustration, you put the control back onto yourself. Your daughter most likely already knows what to do. She's smart. You would expect your dog to listen the first time, so why do we as parents keep repeating ourselves to our kids. They know. So say it once and expect that it gets done. Use the timer, give her choices and be firm but loving. It may get worse for a bit, but I promise it will get better. And read Parenting with Love and Logic. It saved my life!

My 8 year old has this issue. A chore chart has been helpful to us where if you beat the clock you get a prize. She can also get clothes laid out the night before. If she gets an allowance she pays you if you are late for work. A 5 year old may not get the money thing but my 8 year old does. I know it sounds harsh but it has worked. Good Luck.


This site has a fun way of waking up early in the morning and getting to bed on time. It was around $30. My kids love it and I love it. You get points if your job is done by time the music stops. After you get 100 points then your child gets a date night of their choice. I use it on the days that I'm in a hurry. You'll have to check it out. It's great!

Have her shower at night. Also make her get dressed before breakfast, then brush teeth, hair, and wash face after breakfast right before leaving the house.

And unless your daugher has oily hair she doesn't need to wash her hair every day.

The key is routine...same routine regardless of the day of the week.

I am the mother of seven children and THE BEST thing I have found to help kids get ready for the day and then ready for bed in the evening quickly is a CD called "Children's Miracle Music". It seriously is a miracle! Google it!

I don't know what to tell you. I have the same problem with my 9 year old daughter. She takes forever eating breakfast and she gets distracted doing anything. Anyone have any ideas?

Dear L.,

I think I've got the pokiest puppy ever!! ;)

Alas, changing the routine might be better for your schedule. You didn't mention having to go to work or anything, so I'll go with change the shower time to after school. Maybe ask the doctor if you don't like my advice, but kindergarteners don't need to shower daily. Kudos to your girl that she can wash her hair on her own well enough that you let her!! My first grader isn't still that great about it.
Instead of hounding her (which is honestly what comes naturally when we are in a hurry) go in at the first of her shower, tell her you are washing her hair and she's got 5 minutes after that to do whatever it is she does in there. Then walk out and care for your other little one. Then come back in as soon as the time is up and TURN OFF THE SHOWER. Ruin her day a few times in a row and she'll get the hint.


We shower our first grader at night, every other night and is very routine now. You'll get the hang of it all.

Good luck!

She's not doing it on purpose, so scolding/nagging/etc isn't going to help, and will probably just frustrate her.

Set her up for success. She can shower the night before (and doesn't need it every day until she gets to early puberty - my 10yo just started needig a daily shower), and set out her clothes and backpack and coat the night before, so she can just put them on when it's time. Keep breakfast simple. Cereal is fine, she doesn't need toast & eggs or pancakes, etc, every day.

Make sure she gets to bed early enough. If it will help, get her up 15 miutes earlier. Or at least, you can get yourself up a bit earlier and get some stuff done so you can spend some time helping her. At 5, she really needs some guidance and reminders.

LOL I am going through the same thing with my son (5 year old) and if I remember right, I have gone through the same thing with all my kids at around that age. It is very frustrating! He does not want to get his teeth brushed and ready for bed either. I just find something that he really likes to do and remind him of that. "Hurry and get ready for bed so we have time to read a book." That seems to get him going. Maybe there is something at school that she likes and you can remind her not to be late for school and her favorite thing. There are several things that can be used as leverage in your favor. Just remember to always look at the positive side and it will keep you from going insane. Maybe you can say, "Be my big helper and show the baby how a grown up girl gets ready for school the right way" It is important to remember that this is only a stage. There are so many catch phrases that this age loves to hear. I also tell me son, "I guess you have to be four again since you can't get ready like a big boy!" He does not want to be a little boy again. Just keep a sense of humor (I know it is frustrating) and never let your daughter see you at your wits end.

I was very much like your daughter, and still can be to some extent. I would forget why I was sent to the bathroom to brush my teeth. So, there are two things going on I would keep in mind.

One, doing what you want her to do is not easy for her , and she need your help. Use some of the other suggestions you have gotten and eliminate whatever you can from the morning routine by doing it the night before or simplifying it. Allow her enough time for each task so she is not stressed from rushing.

Two, your daughter's memory for the sequence of getting ready is not good, and you can help her cope with that through some of these suggestions then sequence things for her and do it the same way each day, perhaps with a chart
*Brush teeth, wash face
*Get backpack and lunch
If she could have help going from one task to the next--either by checking one off, going to do the next, or with a reminder in each place of the next task, like finding clues.

It sounds like your girl is very zen-like in her ability to be in the moment.

You've gotten some great advice already. With my son, we were always late and mad because we couldn't find either his coat or shoes. I made a deal and a sign with pictures to reinforce the deal. It said, "If you're all ready with your shoes, coat and backpack by the door before breakfast, you can choose 30 minutes of TV or computer games today. But if Mom has to look for your shoes, coat or backpack, then there is no TV or computer allowed at all today." It was simple and motivating and helped him hurry, since "before breakfast" was the deadline. I suggest some kind of picture chart to help her remember what comes next--learning to follow two and three-step directions is actually a kindergarten skill and it is hard for five year olds (who live in the present) to remember multiple instructions AND manage their time to make it all work out. Doing as much as you can the night before alos helps us a lot.
I highly recommend the book "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk." It saved my kids' lives and helped me give directions much more clearly and wihout getting mad.
Best wishes!


Because you asked for it here is my advice:

There is no one on this earth that responses possitively to force. Instead of demanding your daughteer to hurry up, try encouranging her.

1. Have some fast moving music playing in the morning.
2. Assist her in creating a list that she can check off each morning (take the time to guide her in seeing the importance of each item on the list).
3. Make it fun to get out of the shower after the time you both agree is enough time to clean herself.
(What is the possiblity of her getting a bath at night?)

If it will assist take the time to watch Mary Poppins and inspire yourself to make children's tasks fun.

Wishing you and your daughter many peaceful, joyful mornings.

With my whole heart, C.
Owner of Loving Connections LLC
Assisting families to be W.H.O.L.E.

Here are some things that I do with my kids to get them ready faster in the mornings: Give her a bath or shower at night before bed rather than in the morning, you will save so much time. Lay out her outfit the night before. Fill her cereal bowl with dry cereal and put it on the table the night before, in the morning you just add the milk. Pack her lunch or whatever else she needs in her backpack the night before and place it right by the door so you can just grab it and go. Try and have everything together early so that you can take a couple of minutes for "cuddle time" before you have to leave, this will make the whole day better for both of you. Good luck, I hope that this helps!

i feel for you. my daughter was the same way. i felt like i was getting 2 people ready in the mornings. so heres what i did it may look tacky but it did the trick. in her bathroom we put bright colored postits by her toothbrush, hair comb and mouthwash. so when she woke and went potty (which that was the only thing she ever remember to do) she saw the pink, purple, and green notes. her reward was she could listen to her faverite song in the car on the way to school. no matter how torturing it was to me. hope this helps

What time do you put her to bed? By putting her to bed earlier does this help? I also recommend getting as much done possible the night before, shower, setting out clothes. I then get myself completely ready so you can focus on just her. My kids are very independent, but I have a job chart and they get points for getting along, getting things done on their own. I give about 5 points for each item and at the end of week I give them a penny for each point they earn. It works out to be about 1 dollar a week.

You can also make it a game. See how fast she can do something.

maybe you've tried this too but what about sitting down with her and saying okay what are the things we need to do in the morning so we are ready for school? What are the things we should do at night to get ready for school? and make lists. then go to clipart and have her help you pick some pictures that represent each of those things print them out as 4X6 size and put them on a ring, or in those over the door car organizers (I like the organizer) and then she helps you put them in order and if she does it on the ring she flips it to the next one and knows what to do next without being reminded. on the over door organizer she gets to put that picture in one of the pockets and pulls out the next one, or they could be in the pockets in order and when she turns them over they have fun stickers on the back or notes from you saying you are awesome I am so proud of you etc.
have her be part of the process of making the program. and ask her, do you think this will work? what do you think should happen if you don't follow it? let her tell you what should happen.
if she is pokey puppying around you can ask what card are you on right now? oh, that one should be exciting I bet the brush teeth one is next. No mom it's the make my bed one, oh, I guess you will have to show me since I can't remember.
have it be her project. (well she will think it is anyway which is what they want) anyway if someone else already suggested sorry. I am just in the process of setting this up with my 3 year old so it is in play for when she goes to school besides preschool.
Good luck!

Hi L.~ You already got some great ideas & advice, so I doubt you really need mine. But....I have a kindergartener as well (a girl) and we struggled with this for over half of the year! Finally I was at my wits end with the arguing and unhappy mornings about doing simple things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. that I tried something new. I let my daughter pick out the two pairs of summer shoes she wanted for the summer (we started in February) out of catalogs. I told her that for each day that she got ready without me having to prompt her or without an arguement, she would earn one point. The point was equivalent to a dollar, and I told her she had to buy her own summer sandals & flip-flops this year. We cut out pictures of the 2 pairs of shoes she was trying to earn, taped them to a piece of paper, and then taped the paper to our bathroom mirror. This way she was reminded of our deal when she was getting ready. It took her over a month to earn the 2 pairs of sandals. At first she had to be reminded a few times that she would not earn her daily point with her behavior but after a week it got much much better. She liked to count her points every day and see how close she was getting! We just got the sandals in the mail last week! It was rewarding for her, a bit of incentive for good behavior, and I think it has helped form a new pattern for mornings. So far we have not regressed to the old morning mayhem, even though we are done with the point earning. Just thought I'd share what saved my mornings!! good luck!

Do a fun chart together. Pictures of what she needs to do in the steps to do them.
Each morning point to the chart, show her and have them numbered and she has to check them off as they are done. A kid brushing teeth, eating, etc. Have her check it off when she is done and go to the next thing.
Do the timer and keep up with the timer too so she knows where she is at with time..
Also have her lay out her clothes the night before, have lunch, snack laid out or in her backpack already.

I wouldn't do showers in the morning, but that is me. Having them have one less thing to deal with in the morning to me is so much easier. Both of mine take them after dinner. Of course she is going to stand in the shower, she likes being in the shower, both of my kids unless I asked if they needed the conditioner handed to them or whatever would stand and let the water run or goof off.

So at her age still being young I would stay in the bathroom, have her wash her own hair, get lathered up and rinsed off and have you kind of guide her on time. I would do showers at night so you just don't have to deal with that in the morning.

My daughter is 8 and I still hang close as our shower is hard to turn off and on and we kind of limit showers to 8 minutes max.

I think if you had her Pre-prepare with her clothes, take her shower before bed, have everything ready where in the mornings all she has to do is eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth and shoes and socks you will help yourself tremendously! :)

I like the post on the link already mentioned about taking a walk in the morning, but boy, I love my sleep, when I get it. I'll have to think about that one. :) I was just wondering, is she getting to bed early enough? I know for our 5yo, the amount of sleep drastically effects his morning. I know it's hard with the time change. I hate putting kids to bed when it's still broad daylight! Maybe you could try moving her bedtime up by 15 minutes every few days until your daughter is waking up on her own in the morning. You might be surprised and find that when she wakes up on her own she needs a lot less time to get ready. I wonder about the daily shower. I guess if she's outside, maybe so, but even then it seems evening might be easier. Hope you get some good ideas!

With my kids I have a morning chart and when they are through with each activity they get a reward of some type. My friend had hooks on a wooden board and used plastic milk lids. On one side of the lid was the activity or assignment,ie,make bed, comb hair etc. On the other side was a smiley face. As soon as the activity was completed the child could turn the lid over and have the smiley facing out. As soon as the work for day was the smileys would all be showing. There was a row of them for each child. This seemed to work well for her family. If she knows that there is a deadline but she can be in charge of the things to do maybe she will gear her time accordingly. I have noticed with my kids though that they don't have a very good concept of time an how long things take to do. It usually comes as they get older. My daughter who is in college now says it's exciting and suspensful to see if the project or paper will get done in time to hand it in, so some kids like my daughter never outgrow it. Good luck I hope you find a method that works for your daughter.

get shower night before would be a godd start. Have a lamiated check list with small pictures to remind her of what it says. Everyday she gets through checklist before the timer goes off gets a sticker. Every so many stickers she gets to do something alone and special with you or day (go out for a wlk, icecream, etc). Good luck!

I haven't read all the responses so I apologize if this is duplicate advice. We bought poster paper from the dollar store. We wrote down everything she needs to do to get ready in the morning in order. I got some die cuts from the craft store I made a chart on the paper for the 5 days of school. I then posted the die cuts to the paper in the correct order so she can see what she was supposed to do next. Seeing what was needed helped our children to get ready without nagging them. Also, if she had to go in pajamas because she wouldn't get ready, won't hurt her and she may get ready faster so she doesn't have to go in pajamas again. I agree with having the bath at night as part of her bedtime routine. She can't get dirty in her bed and thats one less ting to do in the morning.

Here's my thought: Does she behave this way at school for her teachers? IE not completing tasks, wandering off, etc. Or is she more diligent for them. If this is an ongoing thing regardless of circumstance than its a bigger issue and should be discussed with your ped.

If she's just pokey in getting ready for school then sit her down and explain that she's a big kid and that its *her* job to get herself ready for school. Give her a chart (if you must) with the steps you believe are necessary for her to complete. If she doesn't do them, she goes to school regardless and she loses a toy (or whatever, sticker, etc) for every task she failed to complete + she gets to go to school in PJs and messy hair. GL, I feel for you :-)

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