Friday, August 29, 2008

Q & A: Getting Out of Bed in the Morning

The following question came to me in an email:

“In the morning (6:30 AM) our child does not want to get up! He whines and complains and is very grouchy, even though he went to bed on time the night before (8:00 PM). After being called 5 or 6 times he finally gets out of bed and then starts picking fights with the other kids!”

About a week after I got this email, we had the same exact situation in our house with an 8 year old foster daughter. I had to wake her up several times each morning. One morning I woke her up and when I checked 10 minutes later, her bed was empty, so I assumed she was in the bathroom getting ready. When it was about 5 minutes before time to leave for school, I found her, still in her pajamas, sleeping on the floor by her closet!

Logical consequences should be applied for the child who doesn’t want to get up in the morning and remember, the tension is between the child and the consequences. You are on her side, you are her ally, you are just the messenger of the logical consequences so don’t get sucked into a battle, it is not your battle to fight!

Over dinner, or sometime during the evening, sit the child down and explain to him that “we are going to be taking some steps” to insure that he gets the proper amount of sleep at night. Each morning he will be woken up and told that it is time to get up. (Be sure he is really awake, some children – not to mention adults! – can look like they are awake, but still be mostly asleep. Pull back the covers, rub his back, kiss him, pick him up, tickle him, whatever you do, but it should be POSITIVE, not a rude awakening.) After that, if he doesn’t get up and get ready with a good attitude, then he obviously didn’t get enough sleep the night before, so bed time the next night will be 10 minutes earlier. Be true to your word. On the first day, if he doesn’t get up when told, bed time is 10 minutes earlier. If you give “chances,” then you are showing the child that you are NOT a person of your word! The second time, 10 more minutes earlier. No lectures, no yelling, no arguments, no emotion. The consequences speak for themselves, and the child is in complete control of his future bed times. The third time, 10 more minutes earlier. You do this every time, even if it means he is going to bed at 6 PM, or earlier! If he goes a week without problem, bed time can be pushed back 10 minutes until it reaches the original time.

We did this with the 8 year old girl mentioned above and she did great! She didn’t want to lose any playtime in the evening, so she got right up in the morning!

The beauty of this example is that it sets a pattern in the life of the child to learn how to have self-discipline (getting myself out of bed) rather than following the “path of least resistance” (sleeping in). This skill will pay off in huge ways in the future in so many areas!

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