Stop that! Be quiet! Quit playing at the table and eat breakfast! Behave! Hurry up; you’ll be late! How many times do I have to tell you, get your backpack ready before you go to bed?
It’s easy to slip. When we are rushed to school and work, we may find ourselves yelling these phrases to sleepy kids. Back to school, peaceful morning routines are possible. Supporting personal responsibility and more connection with our kids can happen when we cultivate positive communication.
Back to school time can bring a sense of new beginnings. We can start new routines that make mornings happier and less stressful. A few suggestions may be helpful for launching back to school routines that set and affirm peace and connection rather than tension and friction. Even, behaviorists tell us, connection is more effective than trying to extinguish negative behavior.
Affirm the Behaviors You Want to See!
It is so much more effective to affirm the positive behavior when you see it, such as praising kids for doing homework, treating others respectfully or being responsible for themselves. Here are a few examples.
· “I really like how you put your finished homework in your backpack so we don’t look for it in the morning.
· “Thank you for hanging up your coat so we find it easily again in the morning.”
· “Thanks so much for pulling your little brother’s uniform out of the dryer when you got your own.”
· Wow! You are up 5 minutes earlier. Thanks for setting your own alarm. I love hugging you in the morning instead of nagging you to get up.
Prepare for Success. Have a School Preparation Plan, And Work the Plan. Set Clear Expectations and Follow Through.
Go to Bed on Time and Set a Personal Alarm
Kids and adults can’t get up for school on time without going to bed on time. Establish positive bedtime rituals and keep them. (Reading books is ideal.) Buy your child his or her own alarm and thank them when they use it to get up.
Backpacks should be packed the night before school. Surprise them with something new in their backpack too!
School Clothes Preparation
Setting uniforms out the night before with all the accessories (including socks) helps avoid the morning rush. Reward children when they do by allowing a special privilege when they get home that afternoon.
Practice What You Preach
Modeling the behavior you want is foundational to morning routine success. “See, I got my laptop bag ready for work ahead of time; I am so proud of myself!” Mom says.
Laura Lyles Reagan
Laura Lyles Reagan is a family sociologist and author of How to Raise Respectful Parents. She can be reached for parent coaching sessions through her website at www.LauraLReagan.com.