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My daughter is an absolute master at making everything take longer than it needs to (particularly when avoiding something she doesn't want to do, or prolonging something she is enjoying). It is a challenge we've dealt with for a long time and we've done a few things that have helped to keep her focused in the house, like setting up a musical routine for morning and bedtime routines, having a timer around and easily used in every room, etc.

However, there are still two areas where she frequently stalls we still haven't solved:

  1. When leaving friends houses, Tai Kwon Do classes, the theater (drama classes and activities), school, (and she engages the other mother/father in conversation in order to avoid leaving). She especially engages in these behaviors if she knows she is leaving and has chores, bedtime or other "undesirable" activities to head toward.

  2. Anytime she has to write anything - She hates writing and always has. I have a number of methods I use to deal with this with her at home with varying degrees of success depending on the day, but when she is at school, or with others, the result is it all winds up needing doing at home.

Her methods of stalling tend to be the same ones most kids use and I have countermoves for most of them. However, I am amazed at how she can easily trick other adults (and yes, sometimes I fall for it too - occasionally) into engaging in conversations with her that delay whatever it is she is attempting to delay.

She has a great vocabulary and easily impresses adults with it, gets them talking with her and makes it very difficult to move one from one thing to the next. I can politely say, "we really have to go" ten times, but she can still manage to get them speaking with her again. Her teacher at school lets her do classroom chores like clean the board instead of the writing assignment while they engage in chit-chat. Meanwhile Alice isn't getting her work done, but the teacher figures she is so smart she gets it done quickly anyway (since writing is the hardest thing for her, the idea that she gets it done quickly is absurdly false) Her teacher is trying to change things, but still falls prey to the conversational aspect and admits it is a problem.

When we are out and about, or leaving a friend's house, I don't want to make a huge issue of it "publicly" or call a spade a spade and indicate she isn't really interested in what a business accountant does at work all day - she is just avoiding leaving (that would just make the other adult know they've been duped by a seven year old).

I should add that I am suspicious she has an attention deficit problem (her Dad does and having taught adolescent kids with severe ADD, I am quite familiar with a lot of the symptoms that are NOT hyperactivity). The ADD plays a part in this, because I think in some circumstances, she starts out stalling and then manages to forget entirely what it is she is actually supposed to be doing. It also means reminders before-hand about what needs to happen from one location/event to the next are easily forgotten in the moment when distractions and desirables are at play. At home, we have visual and audio cues, a minimal distraction environment. . . The problem increases in severity in other environments.

Any ideas?

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omg tell me about it! Both my son's have been excellent at stalling to get out of household chores.. my daughter is the one who isn't a natural staller.. –  user4784 Oct 31 '13 at 8:23
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1 Answer

I think she is old enough for a little transparency on your part. With a toddler, I would deal with stalling over shoes and the like by saying "if we get out the door quickly enough, there is time to stop at the park. If you use all that time up getting ready, there isn't." It was immediate and on-the-spot and usually worked. But your child can tell the time and can make plans a few hours in advance.

I would do something like this. Imagine TKD ends at 7 and it's a ten minute drive home. Before leaving, you tell her "If we can get home from TKD by 7:15, you can [something relatively minor, not a huge treat]. If not, you'll have to get straight to that homework the minute we get in the door, and you won't be able to [something pleasant] until the homework is done." The treats might be watching tv or equivalent screen time, or playing a game, or walking the dog, or whatnot. Much like the toddler and the park, where I had to just accept that we weren't going to arrive at our destination as quickly as before children, and the toddler could choose whether my extra ten minutes was playing "take the shoes off while getting my coat zipped up" or going to the park. If your child knows homework will not start until 7:45, they can have that half hour at home doing [pleasant thing] or at the door of TKD pretending to care about accounting. I think it will be a pretty easy choice.

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Yes, this is the most obvious answer and a good one - except for the fact that I can't always offer her that kind of time - when there really is a schedule to the day that only allows for "pleasure" moments once a long way off or when she has already used up those moments now they're gone and she is still stalling. –  balanced mama Oct 31 '13 at 21:40
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