Getting up in the morning is tough for many, especially tweens and teens. Try the following suggestions to get your tween moving and successful in the morning.
Dear Diana: My 10-year-old has always had a difficult time falling asleep and getting up in the morning. His sleep has always been erratic, but I read your article, “Tween bedtime success,” and had immediate success. I filled a bedtime basket for him with interesting, quiet items, which keeps him happily in his bed until he falls asleep. He now goes to bed willingly around 9 p.m., stays in bed, and falls asleep within about 45 minutes. The problem is that even with a regular bedtime, he still struggles to get up in the morning. School mornings are a disaster. He hits the snooze button on his alarm clock several times, starting at 6:45 a.m., so I go in to wake him. I always think he’s up, but he just rolls over and falls back to sleep. He takes too long to get dressed or brush his teeth, and never has time to eat breakfast before the bus comes. Every morning is rushed and stressful for both of us. How can I help him? — Tween Mom
Dear Tween Mom: Congratulations on your successful nighttime routine. It’s not easy to change patterning, but your efforts have helped him to regulate his sleep clock, which will have a positive impact throughout his life. Getting up in the morning is tough for many, especially tweens and teens. Try the following suggestions to get your son moving and set him up for success in the morning.
Check his alarm clock. Move his alarm clock to the opposite side of his bedroom, making it more difficult for him to hit the snooze button. Listen to his alarm. Is it a soft buzz, a loud, annoying beep-beep or set to music? Change the current alarm mode often, so he will not become complacent to the sound. Teach him to set his own alarm before bed.
Reassign activity times. Together, think of all things that could be done before bed, including taking a shower, gathering homework, placing his backpack by the door, choosing clothes for the next day and more.
Set a schedule. Make a list of the things your son needs to do each morning, in order, and ask him to write how long each activity should take. If he thinks brushing teeth should take two minutes, give him four. Be sure breakfast is on that list, as our brains and metabolism need fuel to function well. Give him his own, personal timer to set while completing each activity, to keep him on time. If he becomes efficient, he may not need to get up at 6:45 a.m.
Get more sleep. Currently, your son is barely getting enough sleep by falling asleep at 9:45 p.m., and waking at 6:45 in the morning. A natural consequence of being tired in the morning is to go to bed earlier, at 8:30 each night, until he can successfully get up at 6:45. Let him know that this is not a punishment, but it is a consequence of not being able to wake up. When he gets up without difficulty in the morning, then he may have the privilege of staying up until 9 that evening.
Page 2 of 2 - Offer incentives. Ask your son what you can do to be helpful with his new routine. Offer to pop some whole grain bread in the toaster when you hear his alarm go off, or offer to bring him up a glass of orange juice, as he is getting dressed. He will be successful when he understands the new expectations and knows that you are there to help him make it happen.
Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator. Send your child-rearing questions to FamilyMatters@cantonrep.com. Find additional parenting resources at Boggia’s website, www.yourperfectchild.com.