Is it possible to get out the door without a battle every morning?
Yes. But, first you will need to identify what’s getting in the way. Does your child have trouble waking up or saying goodbye to you? I address those issues here.
For most kids, completing the morning tasks presents many challenges. The techniques below will address some of those challenges and can remedy the situation overnight.
Begin by simplifying the list and allowing your child to take more responsibility in its completion. Understand that a majority of the struggle is probably about control. You are most likely over-controlling the routine through constant nagging and rushing. All the while, your kid is certainly craving more control over his own routine. There are some simple ways to address this part of the struggle:
- Buy a timer.
- Create a to-do list (with your child) for his morning routine and define a set amount of time for each activity. Let a timer be the controller. You will be surprised by how much your kid delights in this! He will suddenly feel in control of his morning. The last item on the list should be PLAY, which will encourage him to complete the other tasks. Making the list can be a fun activity too. The more you include him, the more he will take ownership and tackle the morning routine for himself .
- Consider some other areas where you can give your child more control without compromising your own need to get out of the door on time. For example, allow your child (even a toddler) to choose his own clothes. When my 2 year old was ready to choose her own clothes, I introduced the idea by giving her a choice of two: “Do you want to wear this or this?” She quickly got the hang of how to choose all of her clothes from the seasonably appropriate piles in her drawers.
- When you are tempted to nag and rush, stop yourself. Become aware if you are feeling stressed, or maybe you’ve developed a bad habit of nagging. Instead gently remind your child, “If you finish your list, you’ll have some time to play.” Positive reinforcement feels better for everyone involved and usually gets better results.
- Harness opportunities for your child to experience the consequences of his choices. These opportunities are the greatest teachable moments. If after employing these techniques your child is still straggling (not getting dressed or eating breakfast), then take him to school as-is. Really. It won’t happen twice. When I was teaching preschool, I urged the parents to do the same. A few families brought their children in partially dressed with the remaining clothes in a bag. It only happened once for those children.
Get off on the right foot
With some commitment and focus to addressing the problem, you can enjoy a more harmonious morning tomorrow. And, a more harmonious morning bodes well for a more harmonious day. You and your child will be getting off on the right foot.