One of the most common problems parents come to me with is School Morning Battles. It’s also one of the easiest problems to fix.
1. Write out a list of everything that needs to be done every school morning: make bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, etc.
2. Put it on the wall for everyone to see and make sure the kids follow through.
That’s it. Oh yeah, there is one final detail that sort of makes it all work: INCENTIVE.
Incentive can be anything from watching TV before school to playing video games after school.
Too many privileges are treated as rights. My kids could never have watched TV, gone on computer or anything like that if their bed wasn’t made, their dirty laundry wasn’t in the hamper, etc. They never questioned the rules as never knew any different.
But if you are setting a new set of rules, it’s going to take a bit of time. The challenge for you is to not cave in and turn on the TV in the morning before the list is completed, or to not nag, even be willing to let them go to school in their pj’s if necessary.
My son was running late one morning so I grabbed his uniform and said, “Let’s go”. You’ve never seen a kid change so fast while wearing a seatbelt. We were all laughing hysterically by the time we got to school and he was never late again.
Trust that this advice is sound which makes it easier to follow through. It’s when you start to question yourself that you get into trouble. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with expecting kids to get ready for school on time to earn privileges.
Have fair expectations and follow through. Don’t expect a 7 year old to wash your car at 7:30 in the morning but he’s quite capable of putting on the clothes you laid out for him, eating his breakfast and brushing his teeth. It’s amazing how quickly kids can move when they have incentive.
Funny Story: My then teenage son was laying around the house like a slug all day. I suggested he get out and do some yard work. He said, “I’m so tired Mom. I honestly don’t even think my legs could hold me up at this point.” Five minutes later he gets a call from a friend to go out and he sprang up off the couch and out the door quicker than I could blink. Yup … incentive is amazing fuel.
More reading on incentives: Chores & Money Management