My Child Won’t Get Ready For School

Annie The Nanny

Annie The Nanny

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Annie the Nanny is a professional parenting educator. She writes a weekly advice column for parents who need help with their children's behaviour. Her advice has also been featured on CTV, CBC and in all kinds of print media. For more information about Annie, please go to her 'about' page.

Hi Annie, I hope you are having a great day! I have a question for you. I’d really appreciate your advice, as my child won’t get ready for school. He’s 6 years old, and I’m having a hard time getting him to get ready for school every morning. He is very particular about his pants. The frustrating part is that after the struggle last school season with the same pants issues, we went shopping before school started, and I let him try on his pants and tops for school, and he picked them out. Now he is saying his pants are too long, which are the same pants he picked out. He says he does not like school, which could be the underlying issue, but I don’t know how to solve this. We tried picking out clothes the night before.

I made him a getting-ready chart, stickers, etc. I have even threatened to take him to school in his pajamas, but to no avail. It is very stressful, because he makes us all late in the morning. Any suggestions?  Thanks Rosanna

my child won't get ready for school

Hi Rosanna, First, you have to figure out if this is really about school or if it’s indicative of a control issue. One of the ways to tell is if the “control” aspect shows up anywhere else in his relationship with you. Ask yourself questions like the following: Does he refuse to do anything else? Is he in charge of which story to read at night or where to read it, what to eat and when, and so on?If you think this is a control issue, I’d encourage you to utilize my behaviour intervention service.

If this is about his unwillingness to go to school, then I would advise you to find out what’s at the bottom of his reluctance. Is he bullied? Is the teacher unkind? You may have to do some detective work to find out, but I think it would be worth it. If it’s more of a control issue, then what you’re doing is inadvertently making it worse.

My child won’t get ready for school: It’s important to look confident even if you don’t feel it.

The reason I say that is because I look at what you’ve done to get rid of this problem. It looks like lots of things, but none of them stuck. Whenever you waffle and the more you experiment with different things, the more you send a message that you are concerned about this problem but you’re not sure what to do about it and are lost.

When you send a message that you are lost, the child feels uncomfortable and will test you more to get you to make a stand and take the lead. Then it becomes a cycle because the more he plays up, the more stressed you get, the more you waffle, and as a result, the more testing you will get.

My child won’t get ready for school:  Don’t sweep away issues.

If this isn’t about what a miserable time he’s having in school and you’ve determined it’s a control issue, the next step is to allow him to see how his intransigence is affecting other people outside the narrow sphere of the family. He may only be six, but he’s not too old to learn one of his first lessons in the wider world. Far too many people these days create emotionally fragile children because they sweep away problems before the children have a chance to learn from them. They limit their child’s maturity by attempting to prevent any problems and thus stopping the natural consequences of those actions from occurring.

In your case, your son has had lots of warnings, and by the sounds of things, you’ve given him a decent opportunity to come around. He hasn’t, so don’t be afraid to let natural consequences take their place.

My child won’t get ready for school: Let natural consequences happen.

Ok, so what are the natural consequences? Here’s what I suggest you do: Call the teacher and have a chat (away from him). Suggest that he’s having a problem getting to school on time because he’s slow to put on his clothes. Suggest that next time you have this problem, you’ll simply let him drag it out naturally and take him to school when he finally gets his pants on. Ask the teacher to notice, preferably in front of the class, that he’s late, and ask them to provide a natural consequence, such as staying in after school. Ask them to make their displeasure noticeable. You want the consequence to come from them, and you want him to feel the embarrassment of letting the teacher down. It’s the teacher and class that he has disrupted by being late, and it’s from both the teacher and the class that you want him to learn his first lesson: that being late irritates people. It’s one of many lessons that he’ll learn as he grows, and each one is important.

For more help with your parenting, please visit my parenting services page.

Hope that helps. All the best.


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