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I'm having problems getting my two boys, ages 7 and 8, to get ready for school in the mornings. I've tried putting them to bed earlier, getting them up earlier, making games out of it, etc. Nothing seems to work. They do lay out their clothes the night before so that's one battle we don't have to fight. But when I do finally get them out of bed, they just lay around and whine about anything...."I'm cold," "I'm tired," etc. If they miss the bus, I have to take them to school, they get there too early, and I'm late for work. I've tried that a couple of times so they could "reap what they sowed" from the principle. That didn't work either. And I can't keep calling into work late because I can't make my kids get dressed. I've also punished them in the afternoons by grounding them. That doesn't seem to bother them either. Please help. I'm out of ideas.


Christine Hierlmaier Nelson Replied: It appears that your sons don't believe in your ability to follow through. You have tried several methods to get them ready on time in the morning, so there is no consistency or "routine." The only routine is that they are in control. You need to stick to one routine for several days (or weeks) in a row. They get up at the same time. They put on their clothes, they brush their teeth, they are in the kitchen for breakfast or to pack their things at the same time. Use a whistle if necessary to keep them on task. March them to the bus on time. If they forget something for school, tough. This will require you to be ready before they get up so you can drill sergeant them. If they lay around whining, you stand them up physically and start putting on their clothes for them. This may be embarrassing for two maturing boys. So be it. The sooner your boys learn who is in charge, the better off they'll be. After a few days of this, explain to them that you will drill sergeant them through mornings until they start doing things themselves on time. When they decide to listen, you will provide extra half hour for video games, a trip to the skate park...whatever they enjoy. Don't make the reward monetary. Make it an activity they like. I doubt that your boys lay around whining at school when it's time to transition to a new activity. What is different at school? Consistency. Routine. Drill it into them. Stick to it. Then reward them for following through. Teach them to be responsible for themselves now and you'll have fewer headaches later. Next stop: getting them to do chores after school.
Posted On 2009-05-11 21:21:36
Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: My goodness, you have tried a good number of strategies! I'm glad you reached out for other's advice. From your question, it sounds as though the boys are grouped together as almost one entity. In the morning, separate them so they can't feed off each other. For instance, leave one in the bedroom to get dressed and take the other into the kitchen with you to dress. Or have them doing different activities; one son can be eating breakfast while the other dresses. Respond to their whining and complaining as little as possible. If they find that they are not getting a rise from you, it may not be worth the complaining. Rewarding desirable behavior may prove effective. Try a simple plan that rewards them for getting dressed without complaining, getting out the door in time, etc. "Treasure chests" are popular at this age, filled with inexpensive goodies (such as playing cards, cars, army men, sugarless gum, etc.) Allow each child to have his own stash, and some say as to what goes in them. The dollar store is a good place to find these kinds of items. And, if one son earns his reward and the other doesn't, then so be it. It may give him incentive to earn his own the next day! Other suggestions include: beat the clock game, where they are rewarded for getting ready before the timer goes off, or they race you to see who can get dressed most quickly; race to the bus to see who gets there first, etc. If they run out of time getting dressed, then they may have to go without breakfast. Hunger is a great motivator. Sending/taking them to school in their pajamas is very effective for some kids. The prospect of being embarrassed is incentive to get dressed. No threats, though. If you say it, you have to be prepared to act upon it because they will probably try to call your bluff. Put them in the car, with clothes thrown in so they can dress before going into school. I don't think you would have to do that many times. If they are late, do not give them an excuse note; let them deal with the school consequences. Then, there's the old stand-by: let them sleep in their clothes…they'll get out of bed, ready to go!
Posted On 2009-05-04 23:10:29
Judy Molland Replied: You've made a good start by getting those clothes laid out the night before. To facilitate the morning preparations, you can also get breakfast and lunch boxes in place as much as possible the night before. Another key is to get up early enough that you are completely ready before your children, and can devote all your attention to helping them. Most importantly, make a morning schedule, post it in an obvious location or two) at your children's eye level, and stick to it. This will be hard to do at first, but after a few days, will get much easier. Let your boys know that you are in charge, this is their routine, and that's it! A final thought - are your children getting enough sleep? If they really are tired in the morning, consider moving up their bedtime. Good luck! and also by recognizing that getting to work late because your children can't ready for school is also not a good option.
Posted On 2009-05-02 12:31:09
Maggie Macaulay Replied: Getting ready for school is a universal power struggle trigger along with going to bed, brushing teeth, eating meals, doing chores, practicing a musical instrument and turning off the television. First of all, the ideas that you've had - more sleep, laying clothes out the night before and making it fun - are terrific. Avoid using grounding. It is ineffective and punitive. Here are a few more ideas: 1.Have a family meeting and discuss getting ready for school. Ask your sons what they need to be ready on time. Make sure they know that it is their responsibility to be ready in the morning. Without blame or guilt, calmly let them know how being late impacts your job. Discuss how being late to school impacts their day. Be clear that you are committed to being at work on time and committed to getting them to school on time. Get an agreement (an actual buy in on both of their parts) on the time you will leave home in the morning. 2.Do something unexpected in the morning. Be a singing alarm clock and wake them up with a song. Have a bell that you ring. Play a recorder. 3.Are they ready for their own alarm clock? If so, have them pick it out at the store. 4.Have them each create and use a check list or index cards of the things they need to do in the morning to be ready on time. 5.Have alternating weeks in which one son takes the role of the "Be on Time Leader" who monitors the time and encourages your family "team". 6.In the morning, let them know what time you will be leaving the house for school. Twenty minutes prior to departure, let them know you will be leaving in twenty minutes. Do the same at 10 minutes and 5 minutes. 7.Whatever the state of readiness, leave at the agreed upon time. 8.If someone is not dressed or hasn't completed breakfast, he can finish in the car. 9.Continue to be encouraging with them and with yourself. Know that these are terrific skills they are learning from you! You are teaching them about team, self-reliance and responsibility.
Posted On 2009-04-28 12:26:07
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