Understanding and Dealing with Dawdling, part 2
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6. Give positive attention. Robert R. Butterworth, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist specializing in treating children states that often children get more attention for dawdling than for being efficient. And children look at and value the intensity of the attention more than the kind. So a response at level 3 (out of ten) to a child coming to practice easily, is of less value than the level 8 of the response to dawdling.
7. What are your expectations of your child? Is he/she labeled in your mind or verbally as a perpetual dawdler? Labels tend to become self-fulfilling. Remember that every new day your child has the potential to have matured and changed. Expect changes and they more readily occur.
8. To help a child get on board make eye contact; don’t shout across the room. And especially for preschoolers, give one-sentence directions.
9. Remove possible distractions, and that includes for yourself. If you aren’t focused on the task, how can you expect the child to be? An idea: Often getting out the instrument is a prime action inviting dawdling. Hang the instrument on the wall.
10. Make the clock, not you, the “enemy.” When the alarm rings at an agreed upon interval…it time! Reward prompt response to the alarm. (see #6 above.)
11. Consistent routines prevent dawdling because the routines become habitual. A child who is accustomed to the schedule is less likely to dawdle.
12. Although this is not as common as it may seem, it is sometimes possible that a child dawdles merely to annoy you, which is also a normal part of growing up…the testing of wills. Is the child allowed to make age appropriate decisions for himself in as many areas as is possible or does the child feel controlled?
Understanding that dawdling is a normal and necessary part of childhood doesn’t make it easier to reconcile with an adult’s busy life, but knowing may help with the patience needed to successfully deal with it. Parenthood holds such enormous responsibility to our families and society. I hope in some small way this series has helped you special Suzuki parents grow children with beautiful hearts.
© 2009 Susan A. Sommerville
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