My Kids

Motivating Little Kids

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If you have little kids, then you know that kids can be total slowpokes. Putting on their shoes can take a full hour (I wish I was kidding).

I’m all for having fun and counting every single blade of grass in the front yard – when we have time.

But if we actually have to be somewhere, or if I have to take a dump, then there is no time to stop and smell every single flower in the entire neighborhood.

Here are a few “motivators” that seem to work wonders with my kids.

How to Motivate Little Kids


Do I like to threaten my kids? No.

Does it work? It depends on what I threaten. If I threaten to take away toys or dessert – then my kids move slower than ever.

But if I threaten that they won’t get to brush their teeth if they don’t hurry up? They move faster than they’ve ever moved before.


My sweet Alice is afraid of monsters. So when she is moving in slow motion, I just tell her there’s a monster behind her and to RUN.

It works every single time.

(This does not make me a good mother, but it does save my life when I’m already 5 minutes late to pick up Miles from preschool.)


I’ve offered to buy new toys or give them a sucker for hurrying along. For some reason this only puts them one step ahead of slower-than-molasses.

But if I promise to let Miles take out the trash or sort the recycling? He’s a speed demon.

How do you motivate your kids to move a little faster?


  1. Jamie Lopatynski

    November 6, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I use a sticker chart for 3 main areas a day that our daughter struggles with. 1. getting ready for school. 2. dinner time 3. bath/brushing teeth. She needs 15 stickers this week to earn a trip to starbucks to buy a hot chocolate. (her choice!)

    Usually this helps for awhile and we only have to implement the chart once in awhile.

  2. Janine Huldie

    November 6, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Anna, can so relate to your post now with 2 kids 3 years old and under. When I want them to move faster, I usually just tell them that we are never going out anywhere especially to dance class, which they love to pieces and for my 3 year old who loves pre-school, I tell her she is never going there again either. I know I am a mean mom, but it works every time. By the way, loved the monster tale you, except that my 3 year old now seems to be having nightmares about monsters, so may not work here for us unfortunately.

  3. Natalie

    November 6, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Bwahahaha…. I use Zombies ….. oh I’m an awful parent! So glad you use monsters… I feel kinda normal now.
    But seriously why an hour on the shoes? Every.Single.Morning!!! My neighbors must think I’m nuts yelling at them from the car to hurry up ,there’s a zombie coming…..

  4. Lakeesha

    November 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I act like I’m going to leave them. I get my keys, purse, diaper bag etc. and I commence walking to the car, setting the alarm and all. It usually works pretty well;)

  5. imklvr

    November 6, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Just let me tell you why you ARE a good mom, missy. It’s because you take the time to find the things that work, you don’t just ‘grab and beat’ them. You and I both know there are those out there that do. Where I live there is at least one report of child abuse on the news everyday. NOT exaggerating! And, we know by your books, the quality time you do spend with your kids! Also, to me? Just not ‘molly-coddling’ them is being a good mom! Too much time spent not wanting to hurt their little egos…..bah! When they get out in the big world, they’ll be ready! Cuz we know the world ain’t gonna coddle them! So, you go girl! You get my vote, not only for Prez, but for mom of the year!!

    Now. Write a book. (hehe)

  6. Stephanie

    November 6, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I only have 1, I can’t imagine trying to get 3 kiddos out the door and anywhere on time. I was late for work every day for 3 years… I’ve since switched to a job that has flex hours which is a godsend when it takes a bizillion hours to get munchkin out the door every morning. I usually ask her if she wants to stay home with the animals or come with me but I think that one is wearing off. I look forward to reading some new tactics to add to my arsenal:-)

  7. Nomi

    November 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I bribe my 2 1/2 yr old daughter with some salt sprinkled on her palm or unmoderated access to a bottle of water. She likes salt and would rather drink water than eat food so we have to police it to make sure she doesn’t go baby-rexic on us. It works when we need it to!

  8. Gwen

    November 6, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Oh, yeah! I do what Lakeesha does.. I tell them goodbye and walk out the door… of course, this only works if they WANT to go where I need to go…

    But now that I have a 13 year old, I’ve got a built in babysitter and LIFE IS SMOKIN’… 🙂

  9. kate

    November 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    My three yo likes to keep me waiting in the snow/rain/cold while taking ten minutes to climb into her car seat. Drives me nuts and she knows it! We decided no coloring book or movie (two things she likes in the car) if she goofs around. Works most days.

  10. Amy K.

    November 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    The threat that works the best with my 4 year old? “I’m going to WIN!!!” He can’t stand to lose a race, but sometimes I refrain from letting him win, just to keep him humble. The loser always has to yell, “Oh, RATS!”

  11. Dineen

    November 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

    When my little girl was 2-3 she loved rocks (any old rocks –like from the alley). AND when she was 3 wanted a doll house. I started a little jar of her “good deeds” and put a rock (or 2 or 3) in it for anything good she did and promised rocks (from the alley) for improved behavior (or an extra big rock to help fill the jar faster). What motivated her was getting the rocks (threats of rocks being paid to me for misbehavior sometimes worked sometimes didn’t). When the jar was full, she earned the doll house she lusted after. By the time it had gotten full, it was on clearance.

  12. Dineen

    November 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Just read Amy K’s… That would SO work on my competitive girl! She is alway’s saying, “I win!” everywhere she goes pushing past me just walking into the kitchen. I can’t stand it! “I wasn’t racing,” I tell her. Carrying trash to the garbage? “I win!” Of course, I am carrying a loaded bag and she is carrying one empty box or ran out the door with nothing. My husband and I are constantly telling her things like, “Life is not a race,” or the Jerry Seinfeld thing, “I choose not to run.”
    But when it comes to her dawdling (that word my mom always used! ack!). It works like a charm to start counting fast to have her race against my clock. How fast can you go? Can you do it faster than you did last time?

  13. Caroline

    November 7, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Super cute, love the monster idea!! Thanks so much for this post!! When my daughter misbehaves at school she gets spinach on her plate for dinner, she hates spinach! Another thing that works when she’s misbehaved several days in a row, is taking her most prized toy, which she can earn back when she gets back on track. The challenge with this is that when the toy is gone for a while she really just forgets about it. TV is a good leverage tool as well.

  14. Stephanie

    May 20, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Hahahahaa when we wouldn’t go to sleep as kids my mom used to shout up the stairs “If you don’t go to sleep I’m going to call the closet monster!!” I’d say I wasn’t afraid and didn’t believe but then I’d bolt into bed and sleep with blankets over my head. To this day I still can’t sleep with the closet doors open 🙂

  15. Brandi Barnett

    August 1, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I told my son the Boogie Monster was real and that he was what is officially known of as a Nose Goblin that will bite off his finger if he sticks it in his nose again. He was so terrified that I eventually told him I was teasing.

    I should have perpetuated the myth.

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