16 September 2015

Positive Parenting: Make Mornings Good - Get your Kids Involved

Brought to you by SimpleRx

What does a typical morning look like at your home? Is everybody scurrying around to find lost items? Are you constantly yelling, "Hurry up and finish your cereal." "Get upstairs and brush your teeth." "Hurry up you're gonna miss the bus.”

Then the final threat, after the bus has gone. "I'm leaving now with or without YOU!"

Isn't this a terrible way to do morning?

The answer to stress-free mornings is so simple, it's easy to overlook. Get your kids involved!

The Family Conference

One school of thought says to announce your resignation as their drill sergeant. Tell your kids it's time they take responsibility for getting themselves out of bed, dressed, fed and out the door.

Oh, yeah, parenting connoisseurs say you should buy alarm clocks for everybody. Allegedly, this method lets you take your power back.

Question: and how is that working for you?

We would never interfere with "experts" in the parental arena. We would simply like to suggest a motivating alternative to morning parenting.

Instead, how about getting the family together, at the kitchen table for a heart-to-heart talk? Let your children know there is a family problem and you wanting their suggestions about solving it.

Say something like: "You know our mornings are terribly stressful. I'm open to new ideas to make mornings good."

Make a list of ideas and discuss how to make them happen. You may be surprised at how motivated your little morning monsters will become when it's their idea.

However, if your children are getting antsy, conclude the meeting and schedule another one.

By getting them involved, your kids will claim ownership for the solutions and quit being the problem.

Morning Time Management Starts the Night Before

The next agenda item is evening time management. Explain to your kids that together you will create a routine to help prevent bad mornings, starting with the night before.

With their help, make a second list of things to do before bedtime. Include tasks like: bathing, shampooing hair and laying out clothes for the next day, including shoes and socks.

It's a good idea to designate a certain time every night to sign any papers or permission slips, while your children gather books, homework and put everything into their backpacks. Also, designate one spot, perhaps by the front door, for all backpacks.

Morning Time Management

Assist your kids with drawing up their own morning time management chart. It should include tasks such as: get out of bed and go to bathroom; wash hands; eat breakfast; wash face, get dressed, brush teeth and hair; make bed; grab backpack and put in lunch, etc.

If your children haven't learned to read just yet, you can insert pictures next to each task.

Alternatively, pretty pre-printed pads are available on the Internet. However, there is something about charting their own to-do list that will motivate your kids to complete morning tasks.

Breaking the Fast

Another notion of some parenting gurus support is sending your kids off to school without breakfast when they dawdle and run out of time. They say – it won't hurt them.

We disagree.

Breakfast is the essential meal for children and adults. Even though you've implemented time management schedules, there will be "Murphy's Law" mornings when the unexpected happens. In that case, resort to the good old grab-n-go type breakfast.
Keep easy to make egg muffins in the freezer to zap in the microwave as needed. Just scramble eggs and stir in grated cheese and meat or vegetables of choice. Pour in muffin cups and cook on baking sheet.

Whip up a fruit smoothie with yogurt and nuts.

Spread nut butter between thin apple slices for an apple sandwich.

Add fruit and nuts to Greek yogurt.

Healthy granola bar and banana.

No doubt you'll think of original ideas for nutritious grab-n-go breakfasts.

Breakfast is also a valuable, teachable moment. Tell your kids why it is necessary to break-the-fast. Not only do they need vital energy, their developing brain cells need nutrients to function in school.

Prompt and Praise

Until your children establish this new habit pattern, you may need to prompt them with questions like: "What is the next to-do on your morning management list?"

Also, never miss an opportunity to praise them: "You did a great job brushing your teeth!" "I'm proud of you for getting your tasks done on time!"

Rewards or Consequences

If you're inclined, add a line to your chart for rewards or consequences. For example, use gold stars for rewards and a red X for consequences. Decide how many stars it takes to claim a reward, such as alone time with daddy or mommy or a trip to the aquarium.

As for consequences, let each X represent an extra chore, such as folding clothes, sweeping the garage, etc. Once the consequence has been fulfilled, they can line through the X.

Note: Don't withhold food as a consequence. Don't offer food as a reward. This could contribute to dysfunctional eating practices later on in life.

Also, each school district has rules governing tardiness. Consequences for excessive tardiness may include the child missing out on special events or fieldtrips.

Expect the Unexpected

Build in about 15 minutes of flextime in your mornings. Something unexpected is bound to happen from time-to-time. The dog poops on the living room carpet, somebody spills juice on their school clothes, somebody else "forgot" they needed money for a field trip today and so on. This way when the unexpected occurs, those few minutes of flextime can be lifesavers.

This article was made possible by SimpleRx – Prescription &Pharmacy Discount Card company.

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