29 answers

I Have a New 15 Year Old Foster Son in My Care Who Can't Wake up in the Morning

I just had a 15 year old sweet boy placed in my care who can not wake up in the morning.
He sets the alarm clock, it goes off for 40 minutes, wakes up everyone in the household except for him. I knock on the door loudly which doesn't help either.
The only thing that works is going into his room and yelling in a very loud voice "wake up, wake up." I don't like doing it for two reasons: 1. I don't feel it is appropriate for me (the mom) to enter his room. 2. I don't want our first interaction in the morning to be a tense one.
Any ideas?
(This kid goes to school out of state so if he does not wake up in time he will miss his ride and will not attend school.)

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Oh, that's SUCH a hard age for waking up!!! Has he tried a "light alarm clock"? They gradually get lighter and lighter, like a sunrise, until the room is fully lit at the time you need to get up.
Another thing that might work, especially at that age - a phone call? My (17 year old) little sister can sleep through anything...but will answer her cell phone in her sleep!
Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

We suffer the same thing.. my son wont hear a bomb going off next to him... we got him an alarm clock thats 'extra loud' and told him if he misses his morning bus he has to walk to school... we are 2 mile away... but he has walked it many times. Eventually they learn to listen for the buzz. I used to frustrate myself calling out to them and wake them up but I never got anywhere... the idea of missing the bus and walking to school helped fix that problem quickly. Good Luck

There is a vibrating alarm clock available through productso for the deaf. You put it under his pillow and it vibrates, waking him up. Works like a charm!

More Answers

Have a talk with him when he is 100% coherent about YOUR dilemma in getting him up in the a.m. Ask him what would work. My Jekyll/Hyde teenage daughter was the same way, however, she HATED going to school to begin with. Does he like coffee? My daughter loved flavored coffees and I'd go into her room, turn on the lites, and say GET UP NOW, COFFEE'S BEING SERVED IN THE MAIN DINING AREA!! (like a hotel) -- for some strange reason, THAT got her going!! Alarms did nothing, I got more response by sending her a text. Those days were horrible!! This too shall pass has always been my motto.....and it does......

1 mom found this helpful

Dear R.,

I've raised two teenagers and always said they should make school hours from 1:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. I think that's when teenagers function best. My daughter was not a problem, but my son was a nightmare to wake up. His internal clock changed when he became a teenager and sometimes he could not fall asleep until around 1 in the morning so he could not get up in the morning. No matter what we tried he was not tired, he is the same way at 24 years old and fortunately works from 3:00p.m. until 11:00 p.m. as a residential counselor for troubled teens. He is a night owl and when he has an early day sometimes he just stays up because he can't fall asleep before 3:00 a.m. I think with some kids teens it is common. It is a fact that their internal clock changes and there sleep patterns change as well. As long as you are sure he is not messing with drugs or alcohol (can also cause this problem) then it could be his normal sleep pattern. I know he is a foster child, however does he have to go to school so far away or is there another option? I commend you for taking in a foster child, it is a wonderful selfless commitment. It takes special people to do what you and your husband are doing. Happy Holidays!!

1 mom found this helpful

1) Why is it inappropriate for you to go into his room? You are the mom. The room is in your house. It is important in my opinion to maintain that his room doesn't mean that it is off limits to you. I have known people who have done that and every single one of them regretted it because the kids came to hide various things knowing the parents would never come in whether it was condoms, drugs, pets they weren't supposed to have, etc.

2) Does he have a doctor? What time does he go to bed? Perhaps blood work should be done to make sure his levels are where they are supposed to be. He could just be dealing with whatever stresses are going on in his life. You say he is a "new" foster son so I can't imagine what he is coming from is very good and now here he is in a brand new situation. He probably has a lot on his mind. I used to wake up with my alarm clock perfectly but in the past year and a half, I have had a ton of stress and things going wrong and now I don't hear mine either.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi R.
Congrats on new infant &
Congrats on taking in foster child. It is a difficult task.
As a former foster parent, and mother of our own 4, I am guessing that you have not had too much experience with being the barer of consequence. (this is an edit because of some responses--I was assuming you are not much older than him having a young child-- the things he can accuse you of are horrendous, and entering his space while he is sleeping is apt to bring on that response-- please inspite of it being your house and your right, please check with foster parents rules, and social worker before thinking it is your right, because it is also his right to tell why you had entered and that may not be pretty. Each state is different age wise, but children's accusations hold with it arrests and convictions, records, nice kids do mean things when they don't like what you are doing. Protect yourself, and let social services know your rules)
What is the ultimate consequence of not catching his ride? Do you then take him? Does he miss school? How much school can he miss?
I told my foster kids on entering, those old enough to care of course, that I don't enter their room to wake them. The door will be left open when they were not there always. If the room was a mess, they stayed there with me on watch til it was clean. I don't do rides, I didn't do rides for my own. If they missed the bus they walked. Probably not an option for you. If they didn't get up in the morning bedtime was 1/2 hour earlier the next night, til they were able to get up. NO electronics were in their room so they were not up all night playing on a computer or watching tv. Oh, my own didn't have those privileges either. If they didn't get to school on time they were mine to work all day. If they choose to walk to school albeit late then they owed me whatever hours of school they missed. Mine had that consequence too and mine never opted for that because they knew about that work for mom all day meant working because it was my punishment always for everyone and for every behavior. There is always housework to do and trust me if the house was up to snuff, we had yard or barn work which I could deal out. It was much more effective than sending to their room, time out, or whatever else you might hear about.
None of mine ever did sneak out of the house, or run away, etc. I am not sure you can say that with a new 15 year old in your house. At 15 I would also settle the issue of girls. My oldest foster child was 13 and after him we chose not to have any older so we didn't have to deal with "love" issues.
If a child won't, can't, doesn't want to, or whatever get out of bed in the AM, I assumed they were not getting enough sleep. With a 15 year old, I would question if he knocked himself out so he would sleep. Drugs, choking game, inhalants == just a thought. I know that you were thinking heavy sleeper and that is probably the problem, no one ever expected him to get up on his own.
You may want to transition by saying you will only knock once, but I would never go into the room. I don't go into the room to wake my own up. They are expected to get up with an alarm clock just like the rest of society. I always figured teenagers had to be used to that for college life.
God bless you with this new adventure of parenting
Since I am old enough to be your mom I always remind you to talk to your mom. She may have some great stories and tips you will enjoy.
K. SAHM married 38 years. == adult children 37 coach; 32 lawyer, married and dad to our first grandson born this summer, and twins 18: one majoring in fine arts and the other in journalism as they finish up their first semester at college after homeschooling. Foster kids who I still hear from == 35 married, & great mom of 3, 24 secretary and mom to 2, 37 career soldier. The rest were reunited with family after a difficult time but all was well.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh, that's SUCH a hard age for waking up!!! Has he tried a "light alarm clock"? They gradually get lighter and lighter, like a sunrise, until the room is fully lit at the time you need to get up.
Another thing that might work, especially at that age - a phone call? My (17 year old) little sister can sleep through anything...but will answer her cell phone in her sleep!
Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

First of all i think you have every right to go into his room! like you even said, you're the mom! it's your home and since you knock before entering at least you are respecting him by trying to make your entrance known.
As far as waking up, my 10 year old step-daugher isn't that bad but can still be difficult to get up in the morning. Instead of yelling wake up, I go over to her bed, turn down the covers just a bit, rub her arm a little just to start her moving out of dreamland and say "goodmorning sunshine!" in a normal tone... usually at this point she still hasn't moved a muscle, but then i go over to the lights and give her a count of 3 and at 3 the lights come on... i learned i had to do that or she'd go right back to sleep... and the lights being on is enough to get her out of bed. I understand not wanting the first moments to be tense ones, but since you said the only thing that works is yelling loudly, you may have tried these things already...
If you don't want to have to wake him every morning i agree with the other posts, there are unique alarm clocks that do things like vibrate the bed or turn on the lights or are extra loud (although i'm sure you wouldn't want any more noise since you said it already wakes everyone up in the house!)

If you think its a serious problem you should probably have him checked out by a doctor for a deficiency or some other problem. A friend of mine was always having an unusual amount of trouble waking up and they found she had a HUGE vitamin D deficiency... and she's not the only one i know who has that problem. Since she's been on supplements she's a new person!!
It takes someone very special to accept a foster child into their home, especially a teenager! i'm sure its often a challenge! So best of luck and have a Wonderful Holidays!!

1 mom found this helpful

Practical suggestion: Try the alarm clock that jumps off the table and hops all over the room. The shift in where the sound energy is coming from as well as the fact that it grows incresingly annoying usually works for die-hard sleepers. I don't remember what it's called exactly but I've seen it here and there on informercials so you might find it in one of those stores that sells "As Seen on TV" items.

But you should really think about altering his sleep pattern altogether. Teens often want to stay up late and think they can handle it but it's always a crisis in the morning. Morever, it could really be psychological. It is a very real somatic symptom of depression or emotional crisis to not "be able" to wake up. Is he in therapy to support these changes in his life? Is he able to get up just fine on the weekends or other desired days but it's just the daily grind that seems so impossible? Is he possibly not sleeping restfully at night and he doesn't know how to discuss that with you? Or he may not even know that on a concious level. There are many psychological factors that affect sleep. If you want to just start with practicals and see how that goes, go right ahead. But if you see that it's not working or enough, I would really look into the psychological content.

And I do completely agree with you that your 1st interaction of the AM shouldn't be so stressful and negative. You could of course also try behavioral modifcations/rewards but he may be too old for that- although if he has ADD that might work. Is he on any medication? That could also be a factor. I'm a mental health therapist so forgive me if I'm being too psycho-analytical but I suppose I cannot help it. Best wishes.
-N.

I go upstairs at 6:30am. open the bedroom doors, turn the light on, give a kiss on the cheek and say; "Good morning!" Then leave the room with the door open. After that, the alarms go off and every five minutes or so, I go to the bottom of the stairs, speak through a blow horn I use, so I don't have to go back up the stairs, & say: "Good morning!" through it. I say this until I get a response. Then I announce what time it is. It works for us. There's no yelling involved. Good luck!

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