Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Instilling values

Any thoughts on how to instill a sense of the value of being on time? We need to have left for school 20 minutes ago, but Sabrina is still not dressed. She won't let me help her (this is when she would hit me, if I tried to help) and says she doesn't care if she's late. In pre-k, I don't think there are real consequences for tardiness. (At her school, there also seems to be a culture of picking kids up early, as if 3:15 is the time when everyone should be out of school, not the time when class is over.)


  1. You're right, some preschools don't care about tardiness. That's frustrating, because it does disrupt the classroom routine, even if only slightly.
    Plus, this is a baaaad habit for Sabrina to be getting into, although you already know that.
    Can you enlist the teacher(s)'s help? If you tried to enforce a consequence later in the day for morning lateness, its impact would be lessened, but if her teachers gave her a timeout, or made her skip snack, or stay in from recess, etc. perhaps she'd learn there IS a value to being on time. Otherwise, when you have to be to your job on time, I'm afraid there'll be hell to pay, plus Sabrina'll be in for a rude awakening come kindergarten in the fall.

  2. One other thought: would you be willing to ask the CW for occupational therapy for her? I don't know if you've been able to get any other therapy for her, but it seems like OT is exactly designed for this kind of problem.

    So, I've suggestd two completely different ideas (Discipline is the answer! No, therapy is the answer!) and thus my final question is: CAN she wake, dress and breakfast properly? If you said to her "Sabrina, there's free ice cream down the street for 15 more minutes! Hurry and get out the door!" would she be able to do it?

    Sorry to have such scattered ideas. Hopefully they help a little.

  3. These are both good suggestions, thanks. There's a referral in for play therapy (to deal with the hitting, biting, and hair pulling, though thankfully that hasn't been an issue for the last week and a half. Fingers crossed that things continue to go well...) but the truth is that Sabrina CAN get ready on time. She gets to watch Dora or Diego if she gets ready with 25 minutes to go, or this morning she really wanted to read stories. The problem is that once we get past the Diego-watching time, the appeal of "do you want to eat breakfast with your friends?" is less, and once we get past the eating breakfast at school time (she eats at home also, or if we're really running late, she has dry cereal in the car with a milk box), she cares not at all about being on time. In other words, if she decides to get ready by 7:20, we're golden, otherwise she might not be ready until 8:50.

  4. Although not a therapeutic suggestion AT ALL - what if you just picked her up and carried her out to the car in her PJs?
    Inform the teacher, in front of Sabrina, that is might happen - then go for it.

    If she's likely to tantrum, enlist a friend to drive so that you can sit in the back seat with her and make sure she gets to school safely.

    Occasionally, I think the answer is just to show them that you will go that extra mile to "win" the battle. Not always, but every once in a while... :)

  5. SocialWrkr, I've gotten as far as putting her school clothes in my bag to do just that. This morning's problem was that she was running around the apartment buck naked. NOT an option this morning!

  6. I suck at behavior modification. That said, may I brainstorm?

    Artificial punishments don't tend to work very well at all. Rewarding behavior works if it is done right, but it can be difficult to do it right. Dog training books are helpful here. Learning to give praise/reinforcement at just the right moment for just the right thing is tough. Almost nobody improved with "You were so good today!" On the other hand, "I'm impressed at how quickly you got dressed!" can help, as long as you don't add "Why can't you do that every day?"

    Natural consequences are the best because they make sense to the kid. IF you don't get up in time for Dora Explorer you don't get to watch it. You aren't in trouble. You are not being punished. That is just the way the world is.

    So it would be cool if there was something that she could do only if she were early, like pet the bunny or pick the book, or I don't know...

    I do like the pajama idea too!

  7. LOL - I guess naked, screaming four year old being held down in the back of your car probably wouldn't look so good... ;) Well, then just remind yourself that you are doing all you can - you can't FORCE her to get dressed, much less on time. Keep working at finding a good motivator - but stay as neutral as possible when those plans fall through in the morning... don't give her the power of knowing she also got you riled up along with being late to school. And take deep breaths... lots of em!