Is Your Child Too Slow?

February 12th, 2013 posted by Elizabeth Pantley

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Q:

My 6 1/2 year old daughter is extremely bright and talented, but she just moves incredibly slow. At first I thought it was just her age, but this has been going on since infancy and now her teachers are starting to complain. The other day at a field trip, my husband was constantly bombarded by comments from the staff about how slow she is. The worst part about is that the more we push her to hurry, the slower she is. Our parenting philosophy includes a committment to honoring the uniqueness of each child. How far do we go in respecting her “style” or do we push her to conform? ~ Tammy

A:

It’s really nice to hear you say that you are committed to respecting your child’s uniqueness. Bravo! I think you can continue to respect her personality while using some ideas to encourage her to move along at a pace more in tune with her surroundings – because this will make her life easier. Here’s a section from my book, Perfect Parenting , The Dictionary of 1000 Parenting Tips, that may give you some ideas:

Situation:

My child moves at an agonizingly slow pace when I need her to hurry.

Think about it:

Children live according to a much slower clock than we adults do. They don’t give a moment’s thought to what they might be doing next. They prefer to enjoy each moment. They pause as they watch the cat sleep, examine the color patterns in the carpet, and ponder the reasons for having toes. It’s a shame that we can’t all live according to “kid-time.” But our daily schedules don’t permit that luxury. Try a few of these solutions to avoid sounding like a cranky prison guard, or an exasperated parrot with a vocabulary of two words, “Hurry up!”

Solution #1:

Avoid having your differences in perception of time become a problem by making clear, specific statements that don’t leave room for misunderstanding. As an example, instead of the vague statement, “Get ready to go,” clarify by saying, “Right now, please put on your shoes and your coat and get in the car.”

Solution #2:

Children often dawdle out of habit. A parent will announce, “Time to go to bed” and then be distracted by a phone call or a household task. Children come to expect that you’ll repeat yourself numerous times before you mean it. Practice this: think before you speak, make a very specific request, and then follow through.

Solution #3:

Some children dawdle because they become distracted and forget what they’re supposed to be doing. To fix this, give your child one clear task at a time, and when it’s complete, assign the next. Another idea is to write down the sequence of tasks and give the list to your child with a pencil to cross things off as they’re done.

Solution #4:

Avoid rushing your child with the words, “Hurry up!” This request tends to frustrate your child and she’ll rush to the point of taking extra time to make up for the mistakes that happen when she hurries. Instead, make a specific request that she can follow, “Please put your puzzle in the box and go upstairs to the bathroom.”

Solution #5:

Encourage your child to finish the task with a “When/Then” statement, such as, “When your pajamas are on, I will read you a story.”

Solution #6:

Check you own daily schedule and honestly determine if you are trying to do too much. If so, start focusing on the priorities in your life and slow yourself down a little bit.

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Elizabeth Pantley (58 Posts)

Elizabeth Pantley is also the president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues. Elizabeth’s newsletter, Parent Tips is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Twins, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. You can visit her website at http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/


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