Dressing Problems: Poking, Stalling

Once your child is able to dress himself, it is reasonable to expect him to do so within a specific amount of time (for example, 20 minutes) every morning. The following guidelines can help you deal with poking or stalling.

  • Make sure your child is able to do the task you are asking him to do. Preschool-age children sometimes need some help.
  • Establish a morning routine. For example, get up, go to the bathroom, get dressed, make the bed, and eat breakfast. This will help your child know what you expect.
  • Give your child enough time (20 to 30 minutes before breakfast) to get dressed.
  • At first, praise your child often for getting dressed by himself and on time.
  • Do not allow the TV to be turned on.
  • Have breakfast ready after the 20-minute dressing time. You may want to give a 5 minute warning before breakfast is served.
  • If time allows, spend some time after breakfast playing a game or reading a story.
  • If your child does not finish dressing in the time you have allowed, have him stay in his room to finish dressing. Ignore stalling. Don't nag. If your child throws a tantrum, use time-out.
  • If your child must go to school and is not dressed by 10 to 15 minutes before it is time to leave, dress him, but don't talk to him except to give instructions. Stay calm.
  • Another option is to let your child know that he will not get breakfast if he does not get dressed in time. After missing breakfast once or twice, your child will start getting dressed within the allowed amount of time. If you decide on this action, you may want to call the school to briefly explain the situation
Written by E. Christophersen, PhD, author of "Pediatric Compliance: A Guide for the Primary Care Physician.".
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-02-11
Last reviewed: 2008-10-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
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