My 4 year-old child has the tendency to take her own sweet time – even when others are rushing her. Teachers also feedback that she would tend to ‘switch off’ when all other students are ready to go from one place to one place. She would then request for her teacher to wait for her instead. This behaviour also occurs at home. She would apologise after the incident but tends to repeat it. Any ideas on how to tackle this?

ANSWER:
For her age, she is able to understand things much better and quicker. She is also able to know herself somewhat well by now. Children do not like to be stressed up easily, especially if they are used to a much slower pace for a long time. They hate being rushed actually. They will panic (may show or not show up in behaviour) and will prefer to take a longer time especially if they are not used to the environment and not have any close friends yet.

The Environment

If she has good friends in school and can edge each other on, she will naturally try to be quicker in order to keep up with her friends. Ask if she has any close friends and how are her friends like. Are they also taking their time? Are they much quicker? Do they encourage her to hurry? Does she feel safe with her teachers? Does she look forward going to school? There are quite a few things that come into play. Many factors come into play and furthermore, she is still assessing the environment. she will take some time to see where she can fit in.

Contextualise it for Her

At her age, it is better to reason with her by questioning. For example, “When you move from one activity to another, are you moving as quickly as your friends or do you take your time?”. If she answers she likes to take her time, ask her why. Guide her as she may not be able to explain why such as is it a habit that she does at home or she doesn’t see the need or such.

If she doesn’t see the need, try to explain to her the cause and consequence of not being able to keep up such as others will have lesser time in doing an exciting activity. Ask her if she likes to have lesser time for a fun activity that she likes. Try to make her come to the realisation herself. If she realises the issue, encourage her to be quicker next time and remember that during lesson transition next time. This can’t be changed overnight.

Talk to her Teachers

Talk to the teachers and ask them to sing the same tune as you. In short, words that you use to encourage her – ask them to use the same words with her so that she knows both environments are on the same page. Hope that helps