How to stop dawdling with so many to teach

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  • 4my4kids

    I have 5 kids how do I take care of dawdling in one with so many more to take care of and teach as well? I have a dd age 12 who dwadles over her work. I know that she has the attention in her to do (ie she does well when she sets her mind to sew something) but when it comes to school work it takes awhile to do. She is my oldest dd and  gets distracted helping mom. By that I mean I’m taking care of our ds 2yo and answering questions of her younger siblings while I’m taking care of 2yo. I’m not sure how to overcome this. I’ve thought of doing the timer but do I teach the math lesson then set the timer or is the timer apart of,the lesson time? I really want to help her overcome this bad habit. It makes for a long day for her as well as everyone else. Any advice how to help one with this habit when my attention is often interrupted by the other children?


    There is a lot going on with 5 kids, so maybe some new routines/habits all around can help. (Speaking as a mom of 9 kids, currently ages 15-1, there is just always a lot going on…lol). At my house a couple things help:

    1. Give the kids (esp. your oldest you want to dawdle less) a list of what she’s do get done for school that day. Do the together things first so that she’s just left with individual work. And then let her do it. She decides when to buckle down and work. BUT she also learns the consequence for dawdling – she’s stuck doing work in the afternoon or into the evening while everyone else is done.

    2. To help her – give her a quieter space to do her individual work. My high schooler likes to take her individual work to her bedroom. My distractible 11 yo does best sitting where there is NO window to look out, and often with headphones on to cut the noise distracting them. One boy likes doing all his work on the floor of his bedroom.

    3. Let her know that it’s your job to handle the other kids questions and that she can focus on her work. Teach her to remind the kids “Ask mom.” or “Mom helps you with that.” or “I’m doing my school work, ask mom.”


    My highly distractible 11 YO does her schoolwork in her room. We tried having her do with everyone else at the kitchen table, and it didn’t work well. So she has a checklist every day, and initially had a timer with a set amount of time for each item on her checklist (she was to stop when the timer went off and I would have her finish it later if she had not finished because of dawdling or playing around). She also had instructions not to come out of her room and ask questions–she needed to wait until break time or everything was done, otherwise she could think of any number of questions and waste a lot of both of our time coming out to ask them. I also used a carrot-and-stick approach initially, with an incentive like screen time if she finished everything in a certain amount of time, but a consequence if she didn’t. That was last year, and this year she still works in her room but doesn’t generally need the timer or incentives and consequences.


    Thank you ladies SO much. I’ve tried her room but she still says she can’t focus. Me being a mom that sees something and goes after it to get it done this baffles me to no end. I really don’t know where or what to do.

    Today she did her math at the table (cause she said its too quiet and can’t focus in her room) but with earphones and white noise playing. She said that helped a lot so we will see.

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