How To Get Children Up For School In The Mornings

Hi there. I have been working your program for a while now with my now eight-year-old son and while I have had some successes, I am still finding myself not knowing what to do at times. My son has a VERY hard time turning off the Wii, or stopping a game on the Wii before it is over (i.e., football). I give him a set amount of time to play and then I warn him as the ending time approaches, often several times, to prepare him. However, when the time comes (I often set a timer because he argues that the time can't possibly be up), he insists on finishing his game (esp. football - he insists on at least finishing the quarter he is in). Should I let him finish the 2 or 4 minutes or whatever of that quarter (which turns out to be at least double the time because of the clock stopping, as in real football) or should I stick to the time limit? I feel like this may be a place to not pick the battle, but it may be telling him that limits are negotiable and I don't want him carrying it over to school or eventually work. What do you think? I am also having trouble getting him to go to bed on time. I know you say he should suffer the natural consequence of getting up the next morning anyway and going to school tired, but he doesn't get up! He goes back to sleep or stays in bed for another 1/2 hour sometimes. I do tell him that he will go to school with his hair sticking up and uncombed and that he will have to take his toiletries and brush his teeth in the school, or that if he is not ready he will go into the school and tell his teacher why he can't make it to school that day (is that a good thing to say?) but he still procrastinates until he is rushing, rushing, rushing out the door with his sister angry that he is making her late. I drive them 20 minutes to school each day and his sister has to be there 1/2 hour earlier in 2-week intervals because she is on the news team. Any suggestions??? Thanks so much and I do have more questions, but I will spread them out a bit for you!!! Thanks, K.


Re: Should I let him finish the 2 or 4 minutes or whatever of that quarter (which turns out to be at least double the time because of the clock stopping, as in real football) or should I stick to the time limit?

Here are some tips that apply:

Reward your son for not playing a video game for a certain period of time, whether it's per week or per day. This does not mean you should bribe him. However, rewarding him for good behavior every once in awhile might get him a bit more motivated than simply telling them to turn off his favorite game.

Keep the Wii in an area where all members have access to it. If it is in a bedroom - or even your son's room - there is more temptation and availability to your son. If you don't want him playing games on your family PC, make it clear and do not let any other family members play on the computer--including yourself!

Encourage your son to be a bit more active by reminding him of something that he really enjoys. You may also participate with him in an activity other than playing a video game to get him interested in something else. The more you do these things with your kids, the more it will become habit instead of gaming.

Fill the void with something educational and fun. Make it fun for your son when you've taken away an activity that he enjoys, but also incorporate some education into it. There are many different learning tools that are quite similar to video games that would make a great substitute to games.

Cut them off cold turkey. If you simply take away the console or take the game off your computer, there will certainly be some sort of resistance from your son. However, if the temptation is gone, he will be forced to find something else to do. Suggest a few outdoor activities or make plans for him to play with a friend, and soon the other activities will become staples in the house instead of the game.

Re: I am also having trouble getting him to go to bed on time.

Getting your son off his Wii earlier in the evening may help with this problem.

As long as you take responsibility for getting your son out of bed, he will let you do it. It may take a few days for them to get the hint, but once you stop working so hard, he will realize he has to change his behavior, or face certain consequences.

A natural consequence for oversleeping and being late to school is having to make up any schoolwork that was missed. You might also check with the school to see what the policy is for repeated tardiness or missed classes. Don’t protect your son from these consequences by making sure he makes that bus on time. In order to create less dramatic mornings, you have to let your son experience the consequences of not getting himself up and out the door.

You might tell your son: “You seem to have a hard time getting up in the morning, which tells me you aren’t getting enough sleep. You need to be up by 6 am on school days. As of today, we are moving your bedtime back to 9:30 pm on school nights. Once you have shown us that you can get up on time for five days in a row, we’d be happy to move your bedtime back to 11:30 pm.” If your son does not get up on time, simply state: “I know you want a later bedtime. You’ll have to figure out how to get yourself up on time in order to have that privilege.”

It may be hard for your son to go to sleep before 11 p.m. Going to bed by 9:30 PM is going to be a little “uncomfortable” for him. In time, the discomfort and annoyance of having to get into bed with the lights out and no electronics may motivate him to get out of bed on time in the morning. Once he has gotten up on his own for five days in a row, you can change the bedtime to a later hour. If he begins to oversleep again, change it back to 9:30 or 10:00 pm until he improves.

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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