No More Begging, Bribing or Chasing to Get Dressed


Developed by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Ed.D. and Lynn Jessen M.A.

Does a simple request to get dressed, turn off electronics or come to breakfast inevitably end up in a fight at your house? There is a secret to preventing those flare-ups. It is a predictable morning routine.

No parent wakes up in the morning thinking, “I’m going to upset my child today!” But that may be innocently occurring if every morning is different in your home. When your reality is that sometimes you ask your child to dress right away, but other days you allow him to remain in pajamas until noon, then a simple request to get dressed becomes a surprise. Surprises trigger the arousal system. When that occurs, your child can no longer hear you, look at you, or process what you just said.  Instead his body and brain prepare for battle.

The secret to working together is to bring predictability into your morning routine. When your child knows what to expect, she remains in a state of calm energy where she can hear you, look at you and work with you. Suddenly those draining battles occur less frequently.

An Effective Morning Routine:

  • Remains the same every day – even on the weekends.
  • Removes unnecessary stops, starts, shifts or transitions
  • Eliminates surprise requests
  • Bans use of electronics in the morning

A predictable morning routine may look like this:

  • The child wakes, cuddles, toilets/diapers, dresses, brushes teeth and hair.
  • All tasks are completed before leaving the sleeping area.
  • Once dressed the child heads straight to the kitchen for breakfast.

Your morning routine may be different from this example, but once you establish your routine, follow that same sequence every morning. Ban use of electronics in the morning to eradicate those fights over stopping or starting use.  And to make things run even more smoothly, together with your child, create a visual chart of the steps. Then if she resists a step, point to the chart, and ask, “What does the chart say?” Children believe the chart!

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