SYF: Morning Madness

(Graphic provided by the Penn State Cooperative Extension)

With a new school year rapidly approaching, many families are making the transition from their summer schedule to a more structured school schedule. Within this transition, morning battles often surface. Some children are simply not at their peak in the morning. Our youngest daughter has never been a morning person and continues in this manner as an adult. If this is true of your child, you need to be proactive and find ways to streamline the morning’s tasks. 

Keep your morning schedule tight. When your child has too much time in the morning to get ready for school, she doesn’t feel the need to keep moving and procrastinates. She may end up being late in spite of having ample time to get dressed and eat breakfast.

Encourage your child to go to bed on time. Decide on a reasonable bedtime and stick to it to prevent morning problems. You can insist on a bedtime, but you can’t make your child go to sleep. If she doesn’t feel sleepy, she can read quietly in her room. The point is to remove your child from stimulation such as TV, the computer, cell phones, so she can gear down to sleep.

Have your child do her homework and other projects early in the evening. Staying up late to complete homework is counter-productive. Your child can’t do her best when she is exhausted. Completing homework early in the evening frees up the remaining time for other activities your child wants to do.

Make sure your child gets enough exercise; don’t count on the school to provide her only physical activity. Getting enough exercise during the day helps your child’s body to get a good night of sleep. Join your child in this physical activity, because the same can be said for parents getting a good night of sleep. 

Talk with your child about her day and its problems at the end of the day. Some children are worriers and will not get to sleep if they are wrestling with a problem. Taking time to listen and help your child to problem solve can be comforting and help her to securely face tomorrow. Remember to also ask about the good things that happened that day, not just the problems. 

Encourage your child to take responsibility for getting herself up in the morning. Give your child an alarm clock/radio and let her set her own wake-up call. This puts your child in charge of beginning her day, which is where the responsibility should be.

Because some children move more quickly than others, each child’s schedule should be individualized. Who showers first? Do some children shower in the evening? This not only depends on your child’s preference, but also on who needs to be out the door first and the number of bathrooms available. 

Have your child get things ready the night before. Slow movers can select their clothing to be worn the next day; they can gather together their school books and papers. This allows extra time to locate items missing in action. In this way, your child will be more prepared for the morning. If you have a really slow morning child, assign only morning chores that relate to getting out the door. Other chores can be completed after school, when your child is functioning better. 

Additional information is available from Andrea Bressler at awb1@psu.edu; or http://clearfield.extension.psu.edu; and your local office of Penn State Cooperative Extension. In Clearfield, the office is located in the Multi-Service Center, or by calling 765-7878. In Brookville, the office is located at 180 Main Street, or by calling 849-7361. And in Ridgway, the office is located in the Courthouse, or by calling 776-5331. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce.

Andrea Bressler, Penn State Cooperative Extension

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