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Very very down in the dumps - why do I always have a fight with my dd in the morning - she's not even 3

15 replies

Wills · 07/03/2003 10:04


I am sooo blue this morning and really need to talk about this, so hoping someone can make some suggestions. My dd is almost 3 and for the last year getting dressed in the morning has gradually become harder and harder and harder. I now totally dread these times which is awful as I work and don't get to spend as much time with her as I would like. I get up with enough time that if only she would get dressed without a fight we could have a lovely leisurely breakfast and/or watch TV together, at least do something fun before we leave the house. I don't often get back home before 7.00 and she's in bed by 8.00 so I'd like to make the mornings fun. At first I thought something was genuiely wrong but now I've understood its because she doesn't want me to go and its her way of protesting. On the occassional time that my dh takes her to Nursery she doesn't put up any fight at all. Also once she's dressed the fight stops and she becomes bright and sunny again (once we've had a little cuddle). Ultimately she wanders into Nursery beaming with smiles, happy to see her friends and you'd never know that anything had been wrong. I, however am left drained and feeling awful - tearful! I thought this would be a phase but its been a year now and its getting worse. She's getting bigger and stronger and I simply don't know what to do. Sorry this has been a long one, but I'm at my wits end with this and very blue at the moment as we had one of the biggest rows ever this morning.

OP posts:

Ghosty · 07/03/2003 10:13

Hi Wills,
Have you tried a star chart or reward system of some kind? My DH is not easy in that department ... but then I don't work so I have more time on my hands so I don't have the stress. We also have a time out thing in that if he doesn't do as I ask he stays in his room alone until he is ready to do what he is told.
The other thing is that I count to 5 ... he as yet has never waited until I get to 5 and so it works ... I actually need to think of something just in case he calls my bluff ...


Ghosty · 07/03/2003 10:14

Erm ... actually my DH is quite good at getting dressed in the morning ... it is DS that can be difficult at times ... Doh!


Jaybee · 07/03/2003 11:37

It sounds to me that she has found your weak link and knows this is a guaranteed way to wind you up. I would be tempted to say that if she does not let you get her dressed (or get herself dressed) then she will go to nursery in her pyjamas - stick to it though, take her in them if necessary - if she thinks this no longer winds you up then that is half the battle won.


sobernow · 07/03/2003 11:46

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lulu41 · 07/03/2003 12:44

Dear Wills I know only too well this scenario my DS is 5 at reception and since last September we have had practically the same row every morning. All I can suggest is that at the age of 3 perhaps you should dress her during the week and let her dress herself at weekends or alternatively I have tried having a race with DS in the mornings to see who can get their clothes on quicker me or him (a bit daft I know) but it does seem to work becuase at least we laugh. Over the last couple of weeks I decided I would not let him get to me anymore I just simply walk out of the room go and sit the bathroom and count to 10 then go back in with a smile on my face and reiterate what I have just said about getting dressed - its seems to really throw him - oh the silly games we have to play - anyway good luck if any of these work for you


Hollandia · 08/03/2003 14:34

Dear Wills,
Oh, the joys of parenthood. Believe me, it's all down to annoying mummy. It's part of being a pre-shooler, I think. Also, it's universal.

Very familiar problem, this. My dd, now nearly 4, has been like that for ages as well. It used to be easier when dh dressed her, which he did especially in the last months of my 2nd pregnancy, but mainly she was being good because it was new and therefore interesting. Now that the newness has worn off she is just as annoying with daddy (phew, what a relief).

I have found a few things that work for us: first of all I give her several options for clothes (would you like to wear this shirt or that?). She'll forget there is also the option of not dressing at all.
She can also choose if she wants me to take off her pyjamas or wants to try it herself. Sometimes the teddybear or one of her dolls helps (including funny voices...)

Also, we use the cooking alarm (there's probably a better word for that, but sorry, I'm Dutch, so I call it a kookwekkertje), I ask her how many minutes she thinks she'll need before she wants to get dressed. I usually suggest four minutes, after which she will say, no, she'll need at least 3, or she'll hold up two hands and I'll enter 5-7 minutes on the alarm, depending on how much time I feel we have. After the alarm has gone beep we'll (try to) start to dress.

If she won't put her foot forward to put on her sock I usually ask her if she remembers which is right or left. She's very proud that she knows now and will forget she was trying to annoy me.

With eating breakfast (which is also a problem with us) I give her the options of eating herself or me feeding her.

The big trick is also a very difficult one: try not to get cross. Pretend you're happy (I'm usually at my worst in the morning, so it takes considerable effort) and be determined not to give in.

Sometimes, however, none of the above helps & I'll just end up shouting at her or leaving her to watch tv for 5 minutes or eat her breakfast (or both) to see if it goes away. The things we do to keep the peace. George W & Saddam could probably learn a lot from us mums.

Good luck, I know how you feel. You're certainly not alone if that's any comfort.


anto · 09/03/2003 10:40

Wills, your post really struck a chord. DD (29 months) is a right royal pain in the bum in the mornings. First of all she won't take off/let me take off her pajamas, then it's the nappy, then once (after 10-20 mins) they are both off she runs round naked for another 5-15 mins then it's into trying to get her dressed. On average it takes 30-40 mins every single morning to get her dressed.

I have tried a star chart and offering a sticker as a reward if she dresses quickly, but neither scheme held her attention beyond 3 days. Maybe she's a bit young. I also tell her she can watch Noddy or Bear in the Big Blue House on TV if she gets dressed quickly (i.e. before they finish), but again this doesn't work (she doesn't seem to have any conception yet of how TV works and that programmes finish at a set time). The choice thing - do you want to wear your pink or red tights - sometimes works, but not always.

I usually resort to telling her that if she isn't ready to get dressed yet I will have to leave her alone in her room with the door closed while I go and make a cup of tea, and I tell her to call for me when she's ready to get dressed. After a minute she starts shouting and yelling for me and I go in and she's a bit more cooperative. If she still monkeys about I repeat the procedure. I feel mean shutting her in her room like that but it does seem to work.

I too am at my wits end about it b/c I'm having another baby in 3 wks and dd is starting nursery in July, which means we will have to be there by 9am and I can't see how we will possibly EVER make it out of the house by 8.50am when there's a newborn who needs to be fed as well as a bolshy toddler.


Batters · 09/03/2003 10:57

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wills · 09/03/2003 11:27

Thank you to everyone. I can't write a long one cos its dd's birthday today so the last few days have been spent wrapping, baking etc etc etc. Party is this afternoon. We've started implementing so of your ideas and both dh and I are reading these with great interest. I'll write back soon when I'm not running around quite so much. By the way - she was happy to get dressed into her party dress this morning.

OP posts:

Batters · 09/03/2003 11:50

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KMG · 09/03/2003 18:32

Praise, rewards, more praise, bribes ... Thanks for your post actually, encouraging for me. 6 months ago the boys were quite hard work mornings, (3.5 and 5.5 now), we made it a real priority to ensure they got themselves dressed and quickly, and it's paid off. It was a battle, but now they get themselves dressed completely ever morning with no fuss at all.

We have several rules - they get dressed first thing in the morning - before breakfast, before TV, before they come downstairs in fact. For a while we timed DS1 in getting dressed, and made graphs of his progress (he is older than yours though), but he got stickers/stars/ticks etc. for keeping his target. DS2 also got ticks/stars and so on for doing well.

Can't think of any 'tips' at the moment though. May post later.


Hollandia · 09/03/2003 20:51

It struck me last night (at 2 am actually...) that of course I said it all wrong. The fact that our dear beloved little monsters stand up to us is not really (purposefully) to annoy us (not always, anyway), but actually it is a good sign (sigh). Our children are at an age where they start to realise they are somebody with a mind of their own. They start to find out they can say no and actually refuse to do something. They soon find out that the best things to refuse are eating, sleeping and getting un/dressed (nicest reactions from mummy). Who's going to make them? The fact that they do so especially with us is because they feel comfortable to do so. They are most at ease with mummy, who will love them no matter what. So who better to test your borders with than dear old mum...

We should feel great therefore... (hmm)


mam · 09/03/2003 20:51

Once again... it's so nice to know I'm not the only parent going through this every single morning! Sorry I can't offer any other tips than have already been given. Except if one tip doesn't work after a while try to remember the next one to help keep you going and the main thing I find helps is to make it happy no matter how cross you feel inside - yes I know, I too remember to laugh about it all at the time until it's too late! Hope you all enjoyed the birthday.


hepburn · 11/03/2003 08:37

hi there,i know how you feel.When ds was between 2 and 3 i had the same problem,i used to dread the mornings and could end up with tears of frustration (tiredness and pregnancy didn't help!). A friend told me to hide each item of clothing somewhere and turn getting dressed into a treasure hunt.This could be more of a pain if you are pressed for time,but it did work.


griffy · 11/03/2003 09:29

I get my DS (2.2) dressed after breakfast every morning, so that all cereal spills are contained on pyjamas!

We move from the kitchen to the living room, and do it in front of the TV (CBeebies). It's a breeze, and takes a max of 10 mins (including nappy change) - every time he resists, I just say "do xxx, or the television goes off". Instant compliance results.

When he's dressed, he's allowed to finish watching whichever programme is on (while I get dressed), and then we 'have a race' to see who can turn the TV off first - it works for me!!!!

(At this point, I can hear my own pre-DS voice chanting... "MY child will NEVER watch television..." Tee hee hee, how we laugh...)

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