Thursday, 4 February 2010

Parenting tip, number one

Let me start by saying that I am in no way a perfect parent. In fact, far from it. My parenting is so full of holes it has been called colander parenting, or sieve parenting by more vicious observers.

But there are a few things that I think work well and might be useful for other people. I’m sure they aren’t new ideas and there certainly won’t be anything revolutionary here but if an idea is worth sharing then, isn’t that what a blog is for?

So here goes. Tip number one.

Problem: Your children take forever to get ready in the morning.

My solution:

Firstly there is a rule that breakfast can only be consumed if a child is dressed. I know that risks breakfast spillage on uniform but that’s why wipes were invented.

Secondly go out and buy kitchen timers. The funnier or most appropriate for the child the better. Ask your child how long they want as a time to get dressed. Ideally the timer should be set for 10 to 15 minutes. The aim is to have a time that can easily be beaten. So if your child says five minutes then say “Tell you what, how about 10 minutes? Off you go.”

When your child has beaten the timer, tell them you don’t believe it and demand to see the timer. When they provide the proof tell them how amazingly quick they are.

Don’t be tempted, over time, to reduce the time on the timer.

What not to do:

Don’t get their clothes out for them and don’t help them to get dressed unless they ask for help because they’re trying to do something difficult like tricky buttons or laces. This makes them lazy and more dependant on you.

Don’t get stressed if they aren’t dressed immaculately. You can tidy collars and tuck shirts in without your child even realising it’s happening.


You should find your child loves competing with the timer. You should also find that with more than one child there is the added competitive element of competing with a sibling or two. They get much more satisfaction from sorting themselves out without help. The payoff for the child is lots of praise and achievement and, of course, breakfast.

Also in our house, a session on the Wii in the morning only happens once a child is ready to leave the house (apart from coat, scarf and gloves).

That’s it. If you aren’t doing this right now, and you try it, let me know how it goes. If you have a better strategy then I’m all ears.

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