Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Am Soooo Not A Morning Person Part 2

 Getting a teen to sleep, so that you can get them up in the morning is a challenge. The bottom line, you can not make your teen go to sleep, and more importantly you can not make them get up in the morning. They have to want to want you to get them up in the morning. Did you get that?

Here are some things that you can do. If after you week of observation you find that your teen has been on their phone/computer much later than you had imagined, you will need to take some action. If they have a smart phone this will be  more difficult. The conversation will go like this: " Over the last week, I have noticed that you are up quite late on your phone/computer texting and facebooking with friends, or playing games on your computer or phone. I get how important that is to you. I have also noticed that staying up past 11 on the phone and computer makes it that much harder for you to get up in the morning, and that has become a problem for both of us. I would like you to come you to come up with a time that you would be ready to "shut down" for the night. We will be shutting off the wireless and your phone at that time, so we won't have to get in a fight about you giving it to me." (If they have a smartphone, then they will need to give it to you. If they don't agree to do that, you can let them know that the choice is to either agree to give it to you till the morning or you will be switching out their smart phone for a standard phone, so that you will be able to shut if off through your carrier.) And by the way, that is what you should do with their phone at the agreed time. Set up an evening shutoff time with your carrier.

Understand that this alone won't make them go to sleep. Maybe they need to listen to music, or read, but these are passive activities, which calm the brain, rather than phones/computers which stimulate the brain, and make it harder to fall asleep. This is what the research clearly states, not me!

Ok so that's the going to sleep part, now we get to the waking up. First you need to let your teen know what you are willing to do to help, what you are no longer willing to do. Set whatever limits on yourself that are right for you. Perhaps you are willing to do an initial wake up before you go downstairs, and then maybe come up ONCE for a second wake up call. What you are not willing to do is take abuse, or make it your life's work to get them out of bed in the morning and on time. This is something that is EXTREMELY important to impart to your teen. My college students cite this as THE HARDEST task as a freshman...getting up and getting to class on time. Those students whose parents took on the responsibility for getting them up and out are at a complete loss when they get to college. They have not developed their own strategies for taking on this responsibility. This is something you need to start now,

Perhaps some kind of incentive might help. Everyone needs motivation, and getting up and going to school is not motivating. Maybe for every morning they get up you will pay to download music on their IPODS or phones. Or maybe they start with a kitty of $25 for weekend spending money, and for every morning they don't get up on time you deduct $5. And if the weekend comes and they have no money, so be it! If you have a girl, maybe a Friday afternoon manicure or pedicure for a week of on time waking. Or maybe they have been wanting to get highlights, or an expensive haircut, something out of the norm, that can be an incentive for getting up on time.

You and your teen should come up with a strategy together, including wake up calls by you, alarm clocks, phone alarms, texting them from the kitchen, hiring a Mariachi band to play under their window (only kidding) but a real plan of action. If they miss the bus, or car pool, or you need to leave, there is no ride from you, nor an excuse for lateness for school, hello detention! They need to feel the consequences of their actions. They may have to walk, or call a cab, but do not rescue!!!!!

The conversation should always start with: "I get how hard it is getting up in the morning. School starts early and you are not a morning person. But we need to find something that works, cause I won't be fighting you on this every morning. Let's figure out some motivators, you tell me what you need me to do, but I will not be abused every morning trying to get you out of bed. Those days are over, so we need to work this out."

Remember, this will be a work in progress. The bottom line is if they don't take responsibility for this the ultimate consequence comes when they need you to do something for them. Relationships are reciprocal. If you have had a bad morning, and they have been particularly angry and abusive, you are then not available to them to do all the extra things you usually do for them, which include, rides, laundry, and money. A calm, " I would have, I love doing things for you, but your lack of effort this morning on getting up and out has made it impossible for me to do that for you today! Let's try again tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day!"

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