Daughter Won't Get Ready on Time

Updated on March 31, 2010
S.H. asks from Lincoln, NE
25 answers

My 6 year old will not get ready to go in the morning. I have a dry erase board that gives her a smiley face when she does get ready on time or docks her allowance when she doesn't. I have tried giving her consequences when she doesn't get ready (usually do chores, like clean her room). I have tried letting her pick her own clothes the night before. Nothing seems to work. I have to tell her again and again to get ready and usually wind up getting very frustrated at her in the morning as she just refuses to get ready. I will go in her room to find her playing with toys or reading books after telling her to get ready. Any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

I gave the timet a try. She has an alarm clock in her room and I set it to go off at wake up time and again 5 minutes before we need to leave. We talked about this the night before as I set the clock. I still wake her up as the alarm is not enough to get a 6 year old up, however I did say "wake up, the alarm is going off. Time to get up". Then she got ready without much fuss and when the 5 minute alarm went off she was aware of what it meant and got ready. She was then allowed to draw her own smiley face on her chart. Thank you so much for the advice. If the alarm thing does not work, I know where to go to find other things to try.

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answers from Harrisburg on

I still struggle with this with my 9 year old daughter....basically I tell her...it's 7:30.....you have 30 mins to finish getting ready or you're going to school just as you are. Or I tell her I'm picking out her clothes for that day if she doesn't get out of bed...which she REALLY doesn't like...so that gets her up and moving. It is a struggle with her in the morning and it always has been. But it DOES get better..promise.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Take her to school in what she is wearing. Let her know in the morning, "Suzie, I need you to be ready in the next 15 minutes. If you are not ready to go you WILL be going to school in whatever you have on." "Suzie, you have 5 more minutes to get ready. Don't forget that you WILL be going to school in whatever you have on."
THen do it. I bet going to school a couple of times in her underwear or just a shirt or just pants will get her to #1 remember that mom is serious #2 be very embarassing #3 she may miss recess.
I am a no nonsense kind of mother. It may be a little mean, but my children have NEVER given me ANY issues about getting ready in the morning

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

15 minutes to bed earlier the night before and take away the toys and books so she can't play in the morning.

Love the idea about setting the timer.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

I'm raising 3, my Mom raised 9, and my Grandma raised 12. This works, I promise: First, on a weekend or evening, practice the routine- and with your daughter, write down how long it takes her to REALISTICALLY get ready. Have her show you how long it takes to brush her teeth, put her shoes on, etc. Then the two of you can talk about the schedule you need to make. Acknowledge that she must not like all your yelling (or however you handle your frustration with her), and that she's old enough to take responsibility for gettiing herself ready. Let her know that if she isn't ready when it's time to leave, you will take her anyway, even in her pjs. If she IS ready, she will get her sticker (happy face, whatever). She's 6- the idea of going to school in her nightie will be enough. Practice the routine again with the timer I will mention below- and no nagging. Just let her practice.
THEN, the night before, pick out clothes, get bookbag packed, etc and put them together in one place- bedroom is ok, but living or bathroom works, too. I wake up my kids 15 minutes earlier than I need to- this is for my own comfort, and they didn't know until they could tell time.
I have a kitchen TIMER that goes off when it's time to STOP everything (breakfast, tv, toys) and start getting ready. Then I reset the timer- be realistic- to leave us 5 minutes before we must walk out the door. You have only 1 child, so you can be more hands on, and not worry as much about taking turns, but give her enough time (based on what she showed you) to get it all done. No nagging, just let her do it. When the timer goes off, she will be ready. BUT... and here' s the clincher....
If she is NOT ready, put her in the car anyway and GO.
This sounds harsh, but you will only have to do it once, if ever. You have to teach her now, or you will fight this all of her school years. Ugh. That extra 15 minutes you gave yourself earlier will allow you to calmly remind her that you told her this would happen, and that she's responsible for doing her part in the routine. Brush her hair, make sure she has shoes on, and kiss her as she goes into the classroom. She'll be fine. And she'll stop dragging her feet! If she knows you'll follow through, so will she!
ps- if it makes you feel better, put a set of plain sweatpants and a tshirt in the car, just in case. Nothing fancy, just not as embarrassing as pajamas.
***As a former teacher, I have to say, please do NOT to make the Teacher have to help dress your child or otherwise be the bad guy in this. She/He has 30 other kids to handle first thing in the morning. This is a parenting issue.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

send her to school "not ready" - she's old enough to feel embarassed, tha twill rpobably put an end to it. email her teacher ahead of time and let her know that if she comes to school with pjs on and messed up hair, not to call cps, you are trying to teach her a lesson. good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

I absolutely agree with many of the previous posts because I did it and it works! I took my daughter to school half dressed (not indecently dressed, she was fully covered just not in a full outfit, no need to call dcfs) and because she wasn't dressed warmly enough she couldn't go outside for recess and had to sit inside. That was when she was four, she is now eight and all we have to do when she dawdles in the morning is say "remember that day you took too long to get ready?"

Just prepare yourself for lots of tears and major drama. Remain calm. It is brutal at the time, but it makes a great story when they get older. :)

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answers from Dallas on

Explain to her that playing with toys or reading can be done in free time when she is finished with everything else. Then give her the expectations: Your clothes must be on & teeth brushed before you come to breakfast, breakfast is from x:xx to x:xx and if you miss it you won't eat, all school supplies must be at the front door, shoes on, etc etc etc. When all that is completed she can have free time. If you catch her playing with toys/reading books before free time - take them away and make her earn them back by following the rules. It might take a week or so, but it will work. My daughter got much better after I took away a few treasured books/toys from her room.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

get her up earlier and earlier till you find the right time that it takes her to get ready and every time she complains about not being able to sleep remind her that if she'd just get ready for school in the morning she wouldn't have to get up so early.

And make sure clothes are picked out and backpack is ready to go the night before,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Maybe the instructions of "get ready" is too overwhelming. Try breaking it down into steps. "Go to the bathroom and potty". If she is able to follow two instructions, tell her "potty and brush your teeth". Then when that is completed say "go put your clothes on" - then "put on your socks and shoes" - etc. My oldest son (now 27) had a terrible time with generalized instructions, but I found if I broke them down into smaller segments it went much smoother. Of course, the TV, computer, game systems, etc MUST be shut off until she is walk out the door ready.

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answers from Minneapolis on

I avoided that completely. My kids have to wake up really early to catch the bus. We have them up and ready in 30 minutes, and our routine goes like clockwork, because the boys are used to it by now. When they were 5 or 6, I went in to their rooms, snuggled them in bed to gently wake them up, then pulled back the covers and pulled off their pj's. Then I started putting pants and socks on their sleepy bodies. When they were dressed, we went downstairs, where breakfast was waiting for them. After they'd eaten, at a certain time they were sent to the bathroom to brush teeth, and then I helped them get their jackets and backpacks on, and sent them out the door to the bus.

As they got older, they took on more and more responsibility for getting up and dressed.


answers from Norfolk on

It might just be me, but I think 6 yrs old (maybe 1st grade?) might be a bit young to expect her to be so self regulating. Have they even covered telling time in school yet? I have just one boy, and just now at 11 years old he can get everything ready for school the night before and appreciate not having to run around at the last minute trying to scramble as the bus is coming down the street. You are the grown up, so you drive the schedule - what to get ready the night before - when to get up - when to dress, eat breakfast, brush teeth, wash face, brush hair and when to walk out to wait for the bus or be ready to load into the car if you drive her to school. Timing and scheduling and preparation are things we teach them by example at first. It takes awhile to learn it, and some people never get the hang of it even as adults.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Ditto! I hope someone has some magic advice. My first grader (7 yo) is still like this and I end up helping him get dressed!


answers from Dallas on

Don't try to get her ready on time. I assume getting to school is the main concern. Get a huge clock for the bathroom and be sure she understands what is expected. Then go in the kitchen and wait. When she comes out, no matter what time, just take her to school. By then you should have talked to the school without your daughters knowledge and have a consequence set up with them, preferably not at home. This is a school issue. What would she not like? Staying after school when other kids are on the playground? Going in even earlier? Let the school be the bad guy and stick to the plan.

If you work and have been late then that advice may be too hard for you, so how late is she? My son's school had saturday school for tardy kids, and the kids had to pay the teacher, but if this isn't possible take her to school in her slippers or barefoot or however she is when it is time to go. This is tricky because you have to remain somewhat appropriate and you don't want to humiliate her, but a little embarrassment might be in order.



answers from San Antonio on

I took things that my child would play with and everyday that she would get up and get ready I would allow her to have a toy back, also buy her an alarm clock and set it everynight before bed. Tell her that you can set it for a little early and when she is done getting ready she can play for alittle bit. God Bless


answers from Austin on

You have many choices. The first one is to wake her up even earlier. Change the clocks that she can see so she will not have any idea that it is earlier.

Get her a kitchen timer and tell her she has 6 minutes to brush her teeth wash her face and put on her clothes. Then tell her she has 15 minutes to eat her breakfast.

Worse comes to worse, put her int he car in her PJs and drive her to school. Send her clothes and shoes with her and tell her to get dressed in the bathroom.. You may need to give the teacher a heads up that this is a possibility so she will go along with it..



answers from Minneapolis on

Move her clothes into the bathroom that way she is not tempted to play or read. When my daughters get up they know to go to the bathroom and get ready. I use to have them pick out their clothes and put them on top of their dressers only to run into the same problem as you. Once I moved them into the bathroom they got up and were more awake and motivated. Good Luck



answers from Sheboygan on

We have the same issue, but it starts with getting OUT of bed (she just likes to be snuggly and gets MAD MAD MAD when I take covers off, etc). It is gradually getting better--I wake her up a bit early, put her clothes on the floor (her issue is not playing, more that she is just not a morning person unless she wakes up on her own); and go get her 18 month old sister ready. I have stopped panicking, (my husband can manage putting her hair in a low ponytail if needed) and tell her I"m leaving whether she's ready or not (husband gets her on the school bus while I take the other to daycare). I can not use the "you'll go to school in pj's" b/c she would LOVE that. Jammie day is her favorite fun day at school/daycare. Good luck!



answers from Madison on

I had this problem with my son, so I told him "you have (reasonable number) minutes to (activity) before I do it for you." If he wasn't started by that time, I would dress him, brush his teeth, whatever. I think I only had to do it once or twice; he's nine now and can pick out his own clothes and get dressed, eat breakfast, brush his teeth and be out the door in about half an hour in the mornings. Kids want to be grown up and do it themselves. Taking away that option is pretty much the best consequence I've found.



answers from Chicago on

I have a six year old who also has a hard time getting ready. Your daughter needs you to model the behaviour you want. I believe in rewarding what she does right, not to punish for what she is not doing or for not meeting your expectations. Six is young and they have so much going through their heads. I would never humiate her by driving her to school half dressed or in her pajamas. That is not a memory I want her to have of me or school.
Going to school needs to be positive - she has a lot of years to go.
Try helping her and each time she meets your expectations, reward her with praise. Instead of raising your voice, lower it and almost whisper - it's amazing how much they listen to a whisper.
Rewards can be praise, letting her prepare or choose her lunch/snacks or once she finsihes getting ready and eating she can play her favorite song and dance before leaving to school. You may want to dance too!



answers from Davenport on

I don't know if this suggestion was given already, but a logical consequence is to let her be late, with no excuse note from you, and/or let her go to school in her PJs. I would think either of those would give her enough embarrassment/logical consequence of her own actions, that she might think twice about being a slow poke the next time. Remind her that SHE is responsible for gettting herself ready, etc. and because she didn't do it in time ( do set a timer/alarm like you said) SHE caused herself to be late/be dressed in PJs/embarrasssed.

Now, if she DOES get ready ontime/early, perhaps she'll have a few minutes of extra time for you to help her add something special, like a fancy hair-do/hair barrettes or special accessories for her outfit - jewellry/purse?

Just a Thought




answers from Des Moines on

I would wait for a weekend and plan some fun activity that she will be looking forward to. Talk about it. Tell her in the morning she will need to get herself ready. When you wake her up remind her, but then don't say another word. If she's not ready she'll miss out on the fun thing. Let the consequences happen. On school days, if she isn't ready take her to school in her PJs. Let the consequences happen. This isn't a life threatening issue, there is no safety concern. She's probably feeding off of the power struggle. So don't struggle with her. Be calm, don't nag, don't say I told you so, just lovingly remind her that she had plenty of time to get ready. It may take a few days if she thinks she can get you to cave in eventually. But chances are she'll be horrified and not give you much trouble that.

A totally different approach - have HER make a list of what she needs to do in the morning (can be done with pictures). Then refer to it as she completes each step. Again you are putting her in charge and giving her the responsibility.



answers from Minneapolis on

Try having them get ready in the bathroom- that way they will not have their toys & other things to distract them from getting ready- Ps I read the bathroom also makes an excellent time out area.
Good Luck - let us all know how it went



answers from Des Moines on

I like to use music as much as possible. I also use a timer - it's almost like a game - I have found out that keeping your child moving will get them moving faster out the door!!!!


answers from Fargo on

Don't tell her to get ready, stand over her and watch her get ready. My daughter is not a self-starter or a morning person. I had to remove absolutely everything I could from the morning, like picking out clothes the night before. I also removed distractions like tv and radio. In the interests of learning to take care of herself she still has to brush her own hair, etc, but she does it in the living room where I can loom. She gets distracted very easily and needs constant supervision or she'd be chasing fairies all morning.



answers from Minneapolis on

Cleaning her room shouldn't be a consequence, it should be expected on a regular basis. Docking her allowance doesn't have anything to do with the problems either. The disapline should have something to do with the problem.
Selecting her clothes for her. Let her know that selecting what she wears is a privilage that she can have once she is able to dress herself in a timely mannor. (That should be her reward) Set a timer for 10 minutes and/or have her dress in the bathroom where there isn't any toy distractions.

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