How to get a go-slow kid moving every time
Parents of go-slow kids live with the constant frustration of waiting. Using routines and clear expectations will make life so much easier.
There’s nothing worse than telling your kids you’re leaving at a set time and having them drag their heels for another 20 minutes.
Some kids seem to be born with a go-slow gene. One that makes them underestimate how long things take, or how it impacts on other people.
“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.”
When our kids were younger, we got around the go-slow kid by just winding the clock forward a few minutes. But as a teenager, it’s harder to pull the wool over their eyes about what time it really is. There also comes a point where they need to be more self-managing in getting going and getting to things on time.
Handling a go-slow kid comes down to mastering two things: routines and expectations.
Herding go-slow kids using routines
Creating routines keeps life simple. They turn tasks into automatic processes that skip having to make decisions.
Most people have some sort of bedtime routine, with each step telling their body they’re getting closer to going to sleep. Most of us follow a routine in the morning too.
You can set up routines for any part of your day that you encounter over and over again:
- Packing lunches and the school bag
- Leaving for school
- Getting home
- Doing homework
- Dinner time
- Heading to sports practice
Setting a routine up comes down to organisation and consistency. Things have to be in the same place every time, otherwise you’ll waste valuable minutes as they go on the hunt and think about where they left something. The fewer variables in your routines, the more likely a go-slow kid will get very slick at following them.
But routines aren’t enough to overcome a natural tendency to dawdle. There needs to be some high expectations to keep them moving too.
“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy
The power of real-world expectations to get kids moving
As kids move through their teenage years, they get closer to being full members of the grown-up world. That means they need to live up to the expectations of an adult too. To be a contributing member of society who can follow the rules and make their own way.
This adult world comes with lots of expectations. Paying bills on time. Treating others with respect. Attending appointments on time and fulfilling work commitments.
Go-slow kids are going to need time to get used to these expectations. So letting the expectations of that world shape their life right now provides lots of practice while you’re still there to give them a hand.
There are five things that can help go-slow kids master these expectations.
1. Managing their own study schedule
High school is all about working around due dates. Some kids will work hard the night before something’s due, others will spread the workload out. You can’t force a child to have good study skills, but you can let them learn from the consequences of not having them.
We only master managing time by making mistakes with it. Being able to judge how long something will take is a life skill acquired with practice. And for go-slow kids, you can expect that they’re going to need more practice than others.
2. Get a job
The world of work involves plenty of skills kids can’t learn at school. The pressure to deliver something while you’re learning on the job is tricky to handle. Mixing with people of different ages and backgrounds takes courage. And taking instructions from different directions can be overwhelming.
A job also puts pressure on go-slow kids to get their routines working well. They need to turn up on time to keep their job earn their paycheck. They need to have their uniform sorted too.
3. Give them a time-sensitive chore
Many jobs around the house have to get done by a certain time to keep things running smoothly. The dishwasher needs to run and be unpacked before the supply of plates ends. Rubbish night comes around every week. Meals happen at predictable times of the day.
Help your go-slow kid develop self-management skills by giving them a chore with a deadline. Don’t nag them to get to it, but let the consequences be the reminder. With time they’ll do it on autopilot and learn to make enough time to make sure they don’t get caught out.
4. Room to be slow
With a temperament that likes to take things at a gentle pace, go-slow kids need times where they can break and be themselves. Weekends and holidays can be perfect for this. Look for ways to help them see where their natural tendency fits into life and doesn’t cause an issue.
5. Finding their fit
While some actions of a go-slow kid can be frustrating, they also offer something the world needs. Workplaces would be very dull and stressful without a range of personalities clicking together to get things done.
Go-slow kids tend to be methodical and good at making sure processes get followed. Once they have a routine, they can be good at sticking to them and keeping everyone else in line too.
Don’t let the busy world of school and family life rub away their love of process too much. Help them to find the right fit for their personality, so that when it comes to choosing a career or job their approach to life an asset, not a nuisance.
One of the adventures of parenting is that you never know what your kids will be like. Every year unravels another layer of their personality.
So if you have a go-slow kid, make the time to shape that quality as a plus. Put some good routines in place and let the expectations of the grown-up world bring out their best.
If you’ve been dealing with the frustration of parenting a go-slow kid, what things have worked for you? I’d love you to share your thoughts below.