On the go: Tricks for getting your toddler out the door in a hurry

When a toddler doesn’t want to go, they really don’t want to go. But what happens when your toddler’s resistance to travel is interfering with your to-do list?

The most effective way to get your toddler out the door depends on the cause for their hesitance. For example, if their hesitance is due to anxiety, the following tips may not be helpful, and you may want to speak to a child development specialist about ways to limit their distress.

Assuming your child has no underlying psychological struggles, extrinsic motivation can be a helpful tool for getting your toddler out of the door.  Research is still developing about the long-term effects of extrinsic motivation on young children. However, most experts agree in moderation the use of extrinsic motivation is fine.

What is it?

In this context, Extrinsic motivation is the process of using external rewards to convince your child to do something. This form of motivation can be accomplished using tangible items like food and toys, or abstract items like praise.

Today, I’m going to discuss four ways to motivate your toddler to get out of the house, extrinsically.

Distraction ‘n go

The first tactic we are going to use to motivate our children to get out of the house is something I like to call the distract ‘n go. It works by picking an entertaining item like a cell phone or a remote or favorite toy. If the item is interesting enough, your child will become so distracted by it that they won&;t notice you’re carrying them to the car.

This tactic is particularly useful when the tool of distraction is something Baby doesn’t play with often. Remotes are a good option since they hold mystery. To be fully transparent, my son would possibly sell his soul for a chance to hold the remote. I am not above bribery, and I will use this weakness to get tasks done.

Praise ‘n go

This is my favorite. Praise is one of the most common tools used to get children to complete a desired task. This method is most effective if you have a child who responds well to words of affirmation.

Our son loves praise so much that he responds to a round of applause more than discipline. This tactic has been helpful for everything from going to bed to cleaning noses. If your child shares this love, clap when they walk in the direction of the door. These good vibes might carry them right out the door.

Food ‘n run

As I’ve said in previous pieces, most of the words my son knows are food-related. When it’s time to go, and I need to bribe him, that works in my favor. If your child is having trouble with finding the motivation to leave when it’s time to get up and go, offering their favorite snack can be an excellent way to get them to the car.

Midnight train to Georgia

This last trick might be the sneakiest of all, and it’s technically not extrinsic motivation. “Midnight train to Georgia” involves waiting until your child is asleep and lifting their heavy little body into the car. While you might be in for a rude awakening once you arrive at your destination, it cuts down on a lot of the back and forth involved with trying to leave the house. Just do your best not to awaken the sleeping dragon, or else.

Hopefully, some of these tips will be useful to you when trying to leave the house in a rush. Happy travels.

About the author:
Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez is a writer who specializes in sociology, health, and parenting. Her work has appeared in Healthline, Yes! Magazine, HuffPost, Allure, and many other publications. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or check out her website.

  • Evgenia Theodotou. “Early years education: are young students intrinsically or extrinsically motivated towards school activities? A discussion about the effects of rewards on young children’s learning.” Research in Teacher Education. 4(1): 17-21. April 2014. Retrieved August 31 2017. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED560161.pdf.
  • “Anxiety Fact Sheet.” American Academy of Pediatrics. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved August 31 2017. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/resilience/Pages/Anxiety-Fact-Sheet.aspx.
Get the Ovia Parenting app
Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Apple App Store Get our app at the Google Play Store Get our app at the Google Play Store