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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Morning Moodiness and The Battle Plan

Okay...  So how many of you moms have experienced a child that is Dr. Jekyll by night and then morphs into Mr. Hyde in the morning?

That would be my Noah...

Greyson and Ian get up in the morning with absolutely zero issues...  A little touch on the shoulder or running my hand over the top of their heads and they're up and getting ready.  Shoot, if I'm honest, Greyson often hears my alarm before I do, and is already up and in the shower before I crawl out of bed.  Who do you think Noah inherits his morning humor from?  Yep.  Uh-huh.  I admit it. You probably don't want to even be around me until after my 2nd cup of coffee.  LOL!  I communicate in grunts.  Just.  Like.  Noah.

Noah has always been a little difficult to get going in the morning, but this year it has morphed from occasional morning mishaps into nearly impossible to get him out of bed.  Every.  Single.  Day.  He's missed the bus countless times and been tardy more than I would like to admit.  I am a firm believer that mornings should be started out on the right foot because it determines how the rest of your day goes.  But lately more often than not, I've looked like this...

and he's looked like that:

and the rest of my kiddos reap the side effects of a chaotic morning.

Not a great way to start the day.  And then I end up feeling bad that I've yelled at him and he goes to school feeling bad.  I feel guilty.  He feels sad.  Ugh.  Parenting...  One of the hardest jobs EVER.

After one particularly bad morning, I called and talked to the school principal.  I am pretty blessed to have a great working relationship with her and the rest of our teachers at our small elementary school.  Of course, it helps that I've had a child at our school for the last 6 years and between 5 of them, we've had pretty much every teacher at least once, sometimes twice...  with the exception of two recent hires.

In complete frustration, I called her and asked for her help.  Never underestimate what reaching out for help can do.  I have come to recognize that any problems I've had with my kids regarding school or even at home (thankfully they've been few and far between), someone else has had too.  It doesn't make you less of a parent to ask for advice, but instead it makes you a better parent to admit that there is a problem and you're at a loss for what to do.  And usually, it helps you get a fresh perspective or maybe think of things from a different angle.

Thankfully, I had already spoken to Noah's teacher about his mornings during conferences, mainly because I wanted to know if he seemed sad at school.  Thank goodness she was surprised to hear that our mornings were so awful and he never gave a hint of what was transpiring nearly every morning.  She said she would continue to keep an eye on him and if she noticed anything amiss, she would give me a call.

Since the problem has only gotten worse the last couple of weeks, we decided to implement a plan of school and home working together to get Noah motivated to get up in the morning.

This is morning #1 of "The Plan".

1.  Lay out his clothes the night before, so he all he has to do is put his clothes on, brush his teeth, wash his face, and walk out the door.  We do this anyway normally, but Noah generally slacks on that.

2.  Be in bed by 9:00 p.m.  For a night owl, this is actually early.  I usually start trying to get him to fall asleep by 9:30, but more often than not he's still going strong by 10:30.  Okay, now how many of you just gasped out loud?  Yeah.  I know.  Not good.  But this is a child that gets wound up the more tired he is (Great for wrestling, not so good at bedtime) and especially after a wrestling practice with his endorphins going, its nearly impossible to get him to sleep at any reasonable hour.  I have literally seen him be bouncing around one minute and then take a minute to lay down and be out in seconds.  Its getting him to lay down and keep still long enough to fall asleep that's the issue.  

Yesterday Noah and I sat down and discussed what would help him be able to get up in the morning.  The first thing out of his mouth was, "Go to bed early."  Okay.  He understands that.  So, last night (Praise the Lord!) he was in bed and asleep by 9:00.

3.  I wake him up in increments.  I go in 30 minutes before he needs to be up to start the process of waking him.  Then, I go in again at 15 minutes before, telling him each time how much time he has left.  Then I go in at 5 minutes.  This morning, he got up at the 5 minutes til mark.  YAY!

4.  Instant gratification.  He earns incentives at school.  His teacher already has a program set up where they earn "money" to "spend" in a treat box. Noah loves working for something, so he really gets into "saving" and then "spending" his money.  The children earn "money" by doing homework, paying attention in class and doing their "job" at school that goes into a "Super Savings Account".  Its an ingenious idea, really.  It teaches the kids to work hard and earn something in return for hard work.  At the end of the week, they have the option to spend their earnings.  Noah will get 3 cents each morning he is on time that goes into his "account".  That's an extra 60 cents a month that he gets just for being on time in the morning.

5.  He earns incentives at home.  Noah will also get a sticker at school on a chart for each day that he is on time.  After three days in a row of being on time, he can then play his XBOX for 30 minutes.  If he is on time for the entire week, he gets an hour of XBOX time each day on the weekend.

This is really a great example of home and school working together to solve a problem.  I am so very blessed to have such wonderful staff at our elementary school that I feel I can call on and then work with for the betterment of my kiddos.  I know there are many out there that aren't so fortunate.

So, this is me hoping that this will work.  The goal is that after a while he will be so in the habit of going to bed at a decent hour and getting up in the morning, that the incentives at home are no longer required and he can have his normal hour of XBOX time back each day.  He will continue getting his 3 cents a day at school until the end of the year.

I tell ya, it was so nice to send him out the door this morning with a smile and a hug, instead of a frown and a hug.  And hopefully each morning, we'll look this this:

Fingers crossed!


Anonymous said...

Great idea - never underestimate the power of parents and teachers working together. I wish more of the parents I work with understood how much we need their help! It's a partnership with the goal being what's best for their kids!


Shannon@FoxHollowCottage said...

Lots of people have a hard time getting kids up in the AM. Great post =) We have used earning video game time for just about everyting. Works like a charm ;) Because my boy loves his gaming. LOL. Glad you are having good results Laura! For you, and Noah. Shan