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Please critique my tactics with a 3 year old - all help gratefully received...

(19 Posts)
VenetiaLanyon Mon 01-Aug-11 10:27:33

Having established her absolute right to decide what she's wearing that day, a typical attempt to dress 3 year old DD goes as follows:

Me (jolly and jovial tone): Can you put your shorts on now, and then we'll have breakfast.
DD: Silence
Me Do you want to put your socks on first or your shorts?
DD: Mummy, look how I'm balancing my teddy
Me: That's lovely, darling, he's standing up very well. Anyway, let's see how quickly you can put your shorts on
DD: Oooh, Teddy's fallen off!
Me: Here he is, darling. Now, show Teddy how you can put your shorts on. Or perhaps socks first?
DD: He's balancing again, Mummy!
Me: Why don't we have a race? See if you can get dressed before I dry my hair?
DD: No, don't want a race.
Me: (jollity somewhat forced by this stage) We're going to be late; the quicker you get dressed, the quicker we can have breakfast.
DD: Ignores me
Me: DD, get dressed now! We're going to be late!
(Repeat all above ad nauseum)
Me: See if you can do it before the time that I count to ten!
DD: (shouts) No, I don't want to do it! (Stamping and hitting optional) Made to apologise. I speak quietly, and don't shout back.
Me: (firmly) DD, this is your last chance; get dressed now please.
Me: (very firmly) Right young lady, you won't be able to do xxxxxxx if you don't get ready this minute; Mummy is going to be late for work!
DD: No, I won't do it! You do it! (Cue blotchy face and tantrum, descent into chaos / horrible morning madness etc etc)

Please tell me what I could do better / where I'm going wrong. Some days she's sweetness and light, and she is perfectly capable physically of getting dressed by herself, but am I expecting too much of her to do it every morning? She is 3.6.

Thanks smile

CaptainNancy Mon 01-Aug-11 10:39:48

I may not be the best person to advise... but I would dress her myself- it would probably take 2 minutes if she's compliant (i.e. having chosen what she wants to wear.)

As long as she's capable of doing it herself before she starts school, I don't think you can expect more of her at this age- 3.6 is still very young. Maybe just let her do it herself at the weekend?

cyb Mon 01-Aug-11 10:47:06

Well she's certainly got your attention, which is clearly what she wants

I would drop the getting dressed pantomime if it was starting to drag on like that leave the room and go somewhere else

Are you rushing to leave the house/get to childcare etc?

Malvapoeding Mon 01-Aug-11 10:51:52

I have to confess I ask DD to chose her clothes, she then has 1 chance to dress herself whilst I wash and get dressed, if she doesn't I ask her to bring me her clothes so I can help her, if that fails then I put all her clothes in her bag and take her to the front door naked/pjs and say that is how she is leaving the house, at this point she relents and I dress her. We have only on one occasion turned up at nursery in nothing but a vest, she very rapidly let me help her dress in the car.

VenetiaLanyon Mon 01-Aug-11 11:47:03

Yes, we're rushing to get her to nursery and me to work. I just don't want to stop her developing these kinds of skills because I'm trying to get her out of the door, but perhaps I should just give in and do it myself.

I asked her what the solution was to not having such pendemonium of a morning, and she just said "Mummy, I should get dressed quicker!"

Malvapoeding, I bet the nothing but a vest day was not much fun shock grin.

Malvapoeding Mon 01-Aug-11 11:51:39

It wasn't too bad but she really didn't think it was going to happen and once it did she realised I wasn't messing about. Nursery were fab about it and made no fuss about it at all. She now uses her 20 or so mins to get dressed and to play. She has also recently realised that if she gets dressed (in my room) quickly then she can play in her room with the dolls house before we leave. Removing her from her very tempting bedroom to get dressed has also helps enormously as she isn't distracted by things to play with.

moaningmurtle Mon 01-Aug-11 11:59:48

grin I have a smilimar issue most morning...

So firstly, let her pick out her outfit the night before (just before she goes to bed), let her lay it out on where she wants.

I'd then do what others have said, and tell her that if she gets dressed she can play in her room.

If she still doesn't do it then you could always start to confiscate (sp?) fav toys, but it sounds like its just a way of getting your attention in the mornings.

littleducks Mon 01-Aug-11 12:09:20

I do sometimes help dress mine when time is really tight but otherwise I have found leaving them alone for 5 minutes (no attention at all) with their clothes and no breakafst till they are done quite effective.

I do have my own 'uniform' though, so its simple, in winter to nursery ds wears joggers (all identical style diff colours) a long sleeve t-shirt, and logo nursery jumper, in the summer its a logo polo neck and shorts (again identical style slightly different colours).

I choose clothes on weekdays and important occassions, they are only allowed to choose their own playclothes or at weekends.

Scootergrrrl Mon 01-Aug-11 12:12:36

Maybe she could pick out her clothes and then, if she's determined she's dressing herself, then cut out all the lovely interaction until the clothes are on! Just keep repeating "get dressed please" like a broken record until she's dressed.

p99gmb Mon 01-Aug-11 12:44:56

wow.. what a lot of attention this misbehaving gets her...

My dfd is 3.2 and is asked happily & jolly if she wants to get dressed and go out to xxx - answer is always yes.. so I give her all her clothes (I have picked) and ask her to get dressed whilst I do x y z...

If she doesn't get dressed on her own I would either a) help her, b) remove whatever she is playing with then tell ask her again, c) do it myself with the toy removed for the day or d) say ok, we are not going to xxx so you'll have to stay inside all day in your PJ's and hope she panics!! wink

Luckily for me I'm rarely in a rush so I can afford to let her faff about without her knowing she's got me by the short & curlies!!

I think in your instance, I'd have removed teddy and told her to get dressed and then she could show me how clever she was balancing on teddy. I'd have then left her alone hoping & praying she did it... have you tried a reward for being a big girl and getting dressed on her own?

I love the idea of taking them to playgroup in a vest!! I hope when it happens to me I have the nerve malva wink

lucysnowe Mon 01-Aug-11 12:46:58

I dress DD (3.4) in front of Peppa Pig shock

I am v. pregnant though...

superjobee Mon 01-Aug-11 12:56:31

DD could dress herself at that age but took a lifetime doing it either by being a madam and poncing about or taking half an hour to get her socks on. most of the time i'd dress her but she dresses herself every morning now in about 5/10 minutes smile its just a phase i think.

superjobee Mon 01-Aug-11 12:57:12

oops she is 6 now and has been dressing herself since she started school smile

zzzzz Mon 01-Aug-11 12:59:18

Put a punnet of strawberries [or whatever] in the fridge. Tell her she gets to have one in with her breakfast if she is dressed by the time you come back. Go off dry your hair dress etc. Come back help her finish and no treat or give her a kiss and the "good girl" breakfast.

Don't talk about it any more than that.

Some kids can dress themselves reliably at 2 some take much longer and may still need considerable help at 6. Either way your morning sounds boringly taken up with this nonsense. Always remember you can do whatever you like, so the morning routine should really be what you sound least stressful.

thehairybabysmum Mon 01-Aug-11 13:06:05

What others say, you are being far too nice!

I also have to get out in a rush...with ds2 i just get him dressed myself. If he is insistent on a particualr pair of pants/shorts/t shirt then he has to get up and get himself dressed relatively quickly.

I know he is quite capable of doing these tasks himself if needs be so have no qualms over doing it myself if it suits ME.

I would also leave room and get myself ready if she wants to dress herself as otherwise you are just an audience for her antics!

BornToFolk Mon 01-Aug-11 13:19:18

I dress DS (3.8) most mornings. I know he's capable of doing it but he takes too long and we'll be late if I left him to it. I do encourage him to do it himself but if he's not cooperating, I'll do it for him.

One thing that does help to get him moving in the morning is the promise of a story if we have time before we have to go - if he dawdles, there's no time, so no story.

In your situation, I think I'd walk away. "Right, here are your shorts, I'm off to have a cup of tea, come and find me when you're ready". It worked a treat with DS yesterday when he was being a right little so and so about putting his pants back on after using the loo. I just told him I'd be downstairs and we could play when his pants were back on. He whinged a bit but when he realised he was getting no attention (and being pantless and upstairs by himself was not as much fun as he though it'd be...grin) he put them back on and came down to play.

RedHotPokers Mon 01-Aug-11 13:46:35

OP - don't worry that she won't learn the skills. Worry about that when you have more time - ie. encourage her to get undressed for bath, to put her nightie on etc. This can be done in a more leisurely, less pressurised way when you haven't got a deadline to meet!

I now give a few warnings and then do it myself (e.g. 'can you brush your teeth please' 'please brush your teeth now, we need to go', 'this is your last chance and then I'll do it' - cue me then doing it not particularly gently and slowly so that DD decides to do it herself next time!).

One thing I have learnt with all behaviour issues is the more time you spend on cajoling and discussion, the less chance you have of it happening. If it helps, things have got better since DD (nearly 5) realised that the quicker she got dressed the more time she had to play. So the penny does drop at some point, but you may have another 2 years to go grin.

Mandyville Mon 01-Aug-11 13:56:22

I find one word instructions quite handy. I ask nicely the first time but after that I just say (e.g.) "pants" over and over again until they are on. Minimises distraction!

Have you ever done count downs? I count down (from five, but in retrospect I wish I'd picked three...) with the threat: "Start getting your socks on by the time I count down to one, otherwise I will do it for you." No idea why me doing it is really a decent threat, but it seems to be!

Sorry, I know that doesn't help you with the learning skills thing, but I think other smart people up thread have answered that!

VenetiaLanyon Mon 01-Aug-11 14:21:16

Thanks for all your thoughts, folks; think that I need to abandon education for sanity and pragmatism grin, and combine doing it myself with moments of leaving the room.

Mandyville, have tried the one word thing; doesn't work for DD...and every day seems to be a series of countdowns (sigh)....but haven't tried the "otherwise I'll do it for you" bit; will give it a go smile

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