My Kid Won’t Get Out of Bed!

Morning Madness “My Kid Won’t Get Out of Bed”

The alarm goes off and the morning battle begins: you knock on your child’s bedroom door to wake him or her, but you have to go back time and again to make sure your child actually up, your voice rising with each “wake-up call.” As the minutes tick by your child still hasn’t gotten out of bed, you resort to screaming and yelling in his/her face, and then tear the blankets off the bed. In desperation, you pull your child out of bed by the feet, though you know you won’t be able to do that for many more years. A screaming match ensues, and now your child has missed the bus, so you have to take him or her to school. You’ll be late for work again, and you feel your blood pressure rising with every traffic light. Finally, your child slams the door of your car, and you head to work, agitated and upset, sure that your boss will make a comment again today about your lateness.

“As long as you take responsibility for getting your child out of bed, they will let you do it.”

If you find yourself bending over backwards to get your child going in the morning, you’re not alone. Many parents tell me they set their own alarms an hour or more in advance in order to start the process of waking up their child. In many cases, consequences and punishments seem to have no effect.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need an average of nine hours of sleep per night. Biological sleep patterns during adolescence make it difficult for teens to get to sleep before 11 pm, and nearly impossible to wake up in time to catch the bus or make it to homeroom on time. What that means is that when your child has to get up early to get to school, he or she is working against a biological drive to sleep. But just because a kid’s biology doesn’t match up with the demands of the outside world, it doesn’t mean that you have to surrender to the daily insanity of getting your kids up and out of the house.

Start by Setting New Ground Rules:

In order to get your child to adhere to the morning routine, you need to give them the responsibility for getting up. Sit down with your child and have a discussion about getting up in the morning. You might say, “You and I have a hard time in the morning. I am no longer going to be responsible for getting you up on time. I will give you one wake up call, and then it’s up to you. If you miss the bus, I will not drive you to school. You will need to either find another way to get there, or you will need to call your teachers to get your assignments.”

This solution may not work for all families. Your child may be too young to leave at home while you’re at work; walking to school might not be an option. You’ll need to customize the consequences and expectations to your own family situation. If you do have to drive them to school because they overslept, maybe the consequence is that they have to do an hour of chores to make up for the time you lost.

The important thing to realize is that as long as you take responsibility for getting your child out of bed, they will let you do it.  It may take a few days for them to get the hint, but once you stop working so hard, they will realize they have to change their 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 your school to see what the policy is for repeated tardiness or missed classes. Don’t protect your child from these consequences by making sure they make that bus on time. In order to create less dramatic mornings, you have to let your child experience the consequences of not getting themselves up and out the door.

Help your Child Problem-Solve their Way to a Better Morning Routine

What if your child doesn’t know how to help themselves get up in the morning? Remember, teens and pre-teens are fighting against a physiological drive that tells them to sleep later than many school start times. In order to change their behavior, they need a plan, not just wishful thinking.

If your child has a hard time getting up, have them come up with a list of things they will do to help themselves get out of bed on time. Changing to an earlier bedtime may help. Putting the alarm clock across the room, instead of next to the bed, may also help. Have your child pack their school lunch, pick out their clothes and organize their backpack the night before so that they don’t have to do it in the morning. Remember to put the responsibility for getting up in the morning on your child. If you do it all for them, they have no reason to do it themselves.


Article by: Dondre Campbell

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