The Slow Learner (Paced) Child
The slow paced child is no respecter of age, sex , color, nationality, cultural, social or economic status. You know the person who is always making other person wait for her or him; always late as a dinner guest, late at a committee meeting ,late at a party. As a rule, this person was a slowpoke in childhood; slow at getting ready for breakfast, slow at getting off to school or elsewhere. Think of all the times this person has been urged to hurry, and been rebuked and ridiculed for being so slow; and of all the exasperations other persons have had because of him, not to mention his own.
Some say this slowpoke was just born that way, constitutionally slow in motion. Well, persons do differ in normal speed of movement. But nearly all the children and adults you and I know as slowpokes got that way from earlier experiences charged with hampering emotions.
They learned to be slowpokes. Usually their parents were their teachers first and longest, and the word with which these teachers did their most to educate their children to be dawdlers is “hurry”. The chronic dawdler has heard this word so often that he is sure he will ways be behind .
How Dawdling Begins
Dawdling gets it first and most potent hold on the young child over his washing and dressing himself,over his putting away his playthings or getting ready for bed. His dawdling over these activities at three, four or five years of age paves the way for him to dawdle on a school morning later on, or in other situations that confront him as an adult, whether he is thirty years old or sixty.
As you can see, the more self-sufficient he becomes waiting on himself and doing for himself what he is able to do, the less he will dawdle either as a child or later. You can also see how all this is related to his success at work and play, to his self-reliance and to his acquiring a good appetite.
In order, therefore, to prevent dawdling in your little child now and later, you will let him feed himself, undress and dress himself, wash his hands and face, bathe himself, brush and comb his hair, brush his teeth, and take care of himself at eliminating, as early as possible. And you can do these things for him so much better and faster. Therefore you may go on doing so much for him which he could do for himself that he will come to enjoy being waited on.
Yet there comes a times when you are sure this child should do all such things himself. Then you refuse to do them for him and begin to force him to do them. Since he doesn’t find doing them very attractive, he fools around, plays with things, even with imaginary creations-daydreams. Then, too, of course you keep saying, “Hurry, Hurry!” and grow so vexed at his dawdling that utter these words in angry tones and scod or punish him for being slow.
When There’s a Baby
If there is another child much younger, you have had to do many things for him that you had to do earlier for the older child. But the older one, seeing the baby get so much attention, bids, for like treatment. Indeed , this older youngster may sometimes pretend he is no older than the baby, and may act as infantile, expecting to be treated so.
You will be wise to treat this older child for occasional brief periods as the baby he would like to be , but to set the stage so that he gradually gains pleasure from feeling he is growing up and getting so big.Even if there is no younger child, you should not expect the one you have yourself made over-dependent on you so long, to grow self-reliant and independent all at once. You will help him some, and try to lead him gradually to do more for himself. Then you will celebrate his successes at being big. Here you can exercise all the skills and wisdom at your command. This ought to be a special challenge to any smart parent.
At School Age
Suppose your child is eight, ten or twelve, and is a dawdler, especially on school mornings. He probably dawdles over dressing, washing , eating , or over all of them. Morning after morning the whole family may be upset over getting him off to school on time. But we need to remember that this child is upset too and must go to school in this unhappy state.
You and dad should plan to rise fifteen or twenty minutes earlier than has been your custom. This added time alone might prevent some of these morning scenes. One of you, probably Dad, should take responsibility for seeing that, on the night before, the child assembles his school things ready for the next morning. Announce to him that neither of you will say “Hurry!” On the evening before the plan begins, ascertain with the child’s help when he must be ready for the school bus or the family care, or to leave home in time to walk to school. If there is an eating problem at breakfast, the time he must appear for breakfast should also be established.
Announce to this child that he must be ready for such deadlines and that, if he isn’t he will not be allowed to go to school for the first session(or all day) but will have to sit in a chair at home without any kind of amusement for forty or fifty minutes at a stretch, with free intervals of ten minutes between sitting. Let the school know about your plans. The principal and teacher will be glad you are taking such effective measures to correct the problem. Of course, some children who knew they would have to take sole responsibility for getting to school on time might get sufficient discomfort from being to late to school. Most would not. Besides, we parents hardly should burden the school with our own responsibilities
Follow the foregoing plan until your child has learned to get himself off to school regularly on time. IF he sees you operating with certainty and poise and self-control, just one day of it might suffice. And isn’t this a whole lot more humane and sensible than usual family orgy if emotions over dawdling on school mornings?
Child sluggish at School
Suppose the teacher complains that your child dawdles so much at school that he is the last to be in place when the children are assembled for work or games. Suppose he fools around and never finished written work unless she stands right over him. Assure the teacher that you are going to try to correct his dawdling at home with the hope he may dawdle less at school, though you know at best progress will be slow. But don’t lecture , scold or punish him at home for his dawdling at school; it won’t work.
Instead make him practice him at promptness in many every day situations. See that he appears promptly at the dinner table, having had one early signal; that he is home for regular mealtimes and that no one needs to search all over the neighbourhood to find him.
Work out with him a reasonable regular bedtime and trains him to observe it promptly, without you reminding him over and over again. Assign him a few regular definite chores he is able to do and hold him strictly to doing them promptly. Such home guidance should prevent or correct dawdling by the child who doesn’t finish assigned written work in the classroom; Sometimes, alas, a teacher will encourage dawdling in a few children at school by expecting all children there to work unreasonably fast, even requiring them to work against the clock and causing them to be more eager to be rapid than right. But you , as parent, can hardly hope to change this teacher’s ways. Nor would you be wise to criticize her either face to face or before your child behind her back. Instead, you should encourage your child, as he writes things at home, spells words and does problems in arithmetic, to go on being neat and accurate, and hope that as he gains more skills-spells better, adds or subtracts better-he will naturally gain more speed.
One of the biggest causes of dawdling over lessons at school or at home is failure to enjoy success at them. The child who is not succeeding tends to daydream, to be inattentive to the job at hand. Anything we can do to help this child learn better what he is supposed to learn stimulates his interest and concentration , increases his effort and there speeds up his progress.