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4 Reasons Toddlers Dawdle

1) There's too much going on around them. At age 2, kids become more aware of their surroundings and are more likely to be distracted by them, says Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources for Zero to Three, a Washington, DC-based group that promotes early-childhood development. To keep your child focused on getting ready, or whatever you'd like her to do, get down to her level and engage her with humor. For instance, put her socks on her hands instead of her feet and let her correct your "mistake." That'll get her attention!

2) It's hard for them to follow your instructions. Although your toddler understands basic commands, it's challenging to follow them if she's tired, hungry, or overwhelmed. By 3, she'll be better able to follow a short series of instructions and understand the consequences if she doesn't do what you ask. In the meantime, keep your requests simple and action-oriented. If she balks, break your instructions into smaller steps. Instead of "Put on your jacket," try "Go get your coat," "Stick your arms through the sleeves," and "Let me help you zip it."

3) They want to feel in control. By age 2, kids recognize their feelings and desires, but they have little say in their lives -- and they're eager to gain some. Refusing to leave, especially when she knows you want her out, is one way to feel powerful. To let her call the shots -- without compromising your schedule -- have her choose how she gets moving. Ask her, "Do you want to tiptoe out the door or hop?"

4) They like to take their time. Some kids simply operate at a slower pace. Build extra time into your routines and you'll both be happier.