How to get a go-slow kid moving every time

girl laying in bed

Morning Routine for School for ‘go-slow’ kids

Parents of go-slow kids live with the constant frustration of waiting. Using a morning routine for school and clear expectations will make life so much easier.

There’s nothing worse than telling your kids you’re leaving at a set time and having them drag their heels for another 20 minutes.

Some children seem to be born with a ‘go-slow’ gene. One that makes them underestimate how long things take, or how it impacts on other people.

When our kids were younger, we got around the go-slow kid by just winding the clock forward a few minutes. But as a teenager, it’s harder to pull the wool over their eyes about what time it really is. There also comes a point where they need to be more self-managing in getting going and getting to things on time, enter the morning routine for school.

Handling a go-slow kid comes down to mastering two things: routines and expectations.

Herding go-slow kids using routines

Creating routines keeps life simple. They turn tasks into automatic processes that skip having to make decisions.

Most people have some sort of bedtime routine, with each step telling their body they’re getting closer to going to sleep. Most of us follow a routine in the morning too.

You can set up routines for any part of your day that you encounter over and over again:

  • Packing lunches and the school bag
  • Leaving for school
  • Getting home
  • Doing homework
  • Dinner time
  • Heading to sports practice

Setting a routine up comes down to organisation and consistency. Things have to be in the same place every time, otherwise you’ll waste valuable minutes as they go on the hunt and think about where they left something. The fewer variables in your routines, the more likely a go-slow kid will get very slick at following them.

But routines aren’t enough to overcome a natural tendency to dawdle. There needs to be some high expectations to keep them moving too.

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” – Leo Tolstoy

The power of real-world expectations to get kids moving

As kids move through their tween years and become teenagers, they get closer to being full members of the grown-up world. That means they need to live up to the expectations of an adult too. To be a contributing member of society who can follow the rules and make their own way.

This adult world comes with lots of expectations. Paying bills on time. Treating others with respect. Attending appointments on time and fulfilling work commitments.

Go-slow kids are going to need time to get used to these expectations. So letting the expectations of that world shape their life right now provides lots of practice while you’re still there to give them a hand.

Here are five things that can help go-slow kids master these expectations:

1. Managing their own study schedule

High school is all about working around due dates. Some kids will work hard the night before something’s due, others will spread the workload out. You can’t force a child to have good study skills, but you can let them learn from the consequences of not having them.

We only master managing time by making mistakes with it. Being able to judge how long something will take is a life skill acquired with practice. And for go-slow kids, you can expect that they’re going to need more practice than others.

girl studying

2. Get a job

The world of work involves plenty of skills kids can’t learn at school. The pressure to deliver something while you’re learning on the job is tricky to handle. Mixing with people of different ages and backgrounds takes courage. And taking instructions from different directions can be overwhelming.

A job also puts pressure on go-slow kids to get their routines working well. They need to turn up on time to keep their job earn their paycheck. They need to have their uniform sorted too.

3. Give them a time-sensitive chore

Many jobs around the house have to get done by a certain time to keep things running smoothly. The dishwasher needs to run and be unpacked before the supply of plates ends. Rubbish night comes around every week. Meals happen at predictable times of the day.

Help your go-slow kid develop self-management skills by giving them a chore with a deadline. Don’t nag them to get to it, but let the consequences be the reminder. With time they’ll do it on autopilot and learn to make enough time to make sure they don’t get caught out.

4. Room to be slow

With a temperament that likes to take things at a gentle pace, go-slow kids need times where they can break and be themselves. Weekends and holidays can be perfect for this. Look for ways to help them see where their natural tendency fits into life and doesn’t cause an issue.

5. Finding their fit

While some actions of a go-slow kid can be frustrating, they also offer something the world needs. Workplaces would be very dull and stressful without a range of personalities clicking together to get things done.

Go-slow kids tend to be methodical and good at making sure processes get followed. Once they have a routine, they can be good at sticking to them and keeping everyone else in line too.

Don’t let the busy world of school and family life rub away their love of process too much. Help them to find the right fit for their personality, so that when it comes to choosing a career or job their approach to life an asset, not a nuisance.

One of the adventures of parenting is that you never know what your kids will be like. Every year unravels another layer of their personality.

So if you have a go-slow kid, make the time to shape that quality as a plus. Put some good routines in place (including a morning routine for school to help get everyone out the door) and let the expectations of the grown-up world bring out their best.

If you’ve been dealing with the frustration of parenting a go-slow kid, what things have worked for you? I’d love you to share your thoughts below.


If you enjoyed this blog, you may also be interested in our ‘Parenting‘ collection of articles – tips and tricks for parenting tweens and teens!.


This article originally appeared on the Tweens2teen website and has been republished with permission.
Rachel Doherty

Rachel Doherty is the founder of Tweens2teen. She’s a social worker, teacher and the mother of 3 teenagers. In her spare time she trains youth workers and does a lot of washing and cooking. You can read more of her work on her website –

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