17 answers

Motivating Kids in the Morning

I desperately need help for ideas on how to motivate my 6 and 4 year olds in the morning. Every morning is a struggle. I wrote out a list of what needs to be done with pictures; getting dressed, brushing teeth etc. That worked for a while and now they do understand what needs to be completed but they have no sense of urgency. I printed out a photo of the clock and the time we need to leave the house and that didn’t help. I’m concerned since, once school starts, we need to leave earlier then we do now. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Oh they'll get motivated all right. ;) Especially when the teacher starts giving them dirty looks and stern talkings-to for the unacceptable offense of being tardy. Yep, I bet we all remember school... such a LOVELY place, wasn't it. :P

My kids are 10 & 12. We've used the earlier bedtime thing and it absolutely works (most of the time). We tell them if they're too tired to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, they must need to go to bed earlier. We don't make a big fuss...and we've told them it's NOT punishment...just a way to help them fulfill their responsibilities. No yelling...no screaming...just calmly tell them if they've not done whatever it is that needs to be done, bedtime will be earlier. We start with 15 minutes and move to 30 if the 15 doesn't work. My oldest has ADHD, and focusing in the morning is very difficult for him until his meds kick in, but that's still no excuse for him not to comply. We've told him everyone has difficulties they must deal with. For those who think that's too harsh...a boss isn't going to cut him slack for the ADHD...he'll get fired if he can't show up for work on time....so he needs to learn to manage it now...and develop coping habits while he's young.

I've also set timers. When my kids were smaller, I game them each their own timer (though my ADHD child could never seem to find his when it was time to use it). Now that they're older, they also have timers on their watches. The timers work to some extent...but the earlier bedtimes seems to work better for us.

Good luck.

More Answers

I had the same problem with my son last year during Kindergarten....until I bought him his own clock. I told him - when the big hand is on the 1..you need to be downstairs eating breakfast. When the big hand is on the 4 - we go to the bus stop. Worked PERFECTLY. He was never late again!!

We have this same problem. The first thing we do is make sure we have ourselves together so we're not racing around, too. I also factor in a buffer period for my own sanity. Then, our biggest motivator is taking away things the kids are looking forward to, a favorite toy, etc. (what we take away depends on the severity of the offense). We don't get into an argument or discussion with them. Also, when it's time to go it's time to go ... meaning if you tell them that everyone needs to be in the car at 8:00, if it's 8:00 put them in the car no matter their state of dress (obviously be prepared to complete the task at your destination). I hope these ideas help. Good luck.

One thing that worked with my 7 and 5 year old girls is to make getting ready in the morning a race--they still had to allow 2 mins for brushing teeth, but dressing including shoes and socks, brushing hair, making beds, etc. was part of the race. Then we would keep track of "best times". Not only did they get ready without dwadling, they really began to appreciate the fact that they actually had free time before school during which they were able to color, play with toys and if enough time, watch some of a tv show. These were their "rewards" for being disciplined getting ready for school.

Once you have simplified and organized everything so they are able to get ready on time, explained things nicely a few times (or a hundred times) and gone through the same routine every day, there is only so much "patience" you should have when you know they understand what they are doing.

They have to be on time. This is a "rule" and it's not going to change, so stay calm and enforce it with consequences after warnings. They won't motivate themselves, because they're kids, and because they know you get them to their destination no matter what, and there is no effective penalty for lagging.

You can't give them an innate sense of urgency, but you can enforce some discipline if they intentionally lag when you have asked them to do something. (OK, I'll count to three for you to finish ____". Use a consequence if they don't respond. Don't ask 10 times and get mad. One calm request, one warning, and then a consequence. Be consistent until they respond with just your request.

They will get it if they have to. Most kids do not hurry on their own! My daughter is 3 1/2, she's doing the natural "dawdling" thing but when we have to hurry, if she hears me start counting, she runs to get her shoes, help her brother, get to the car, whatever, because she knows a consequence would come with the number 3. I don't get past "1" before she's hurrying, and I never need to raise my voice or get mad.

Take it one task at a time, and teach each task separately as needing to be done as soon as you say it. They'll learn to do give up the fight and do it on their own with just your verbal request if you're consistent.

Don't forget big hugs and praises when they do hurry for each little thing. Good luck!

My kids are 10 & 12. We've used the earlier bedtime thing and it absolutely works (most of the time). We tell them if they're too tired to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, they must need to go to bed earlier. We don't make a big fuss...and we've told them it's NOT punishment...just a way to help them fulfill their responsibilities. No yelling...no screaming...just calmly tell them if they've not done whatever it is that needs to be done, bedtime will be earlier. We start with 15 minutes and move to 30 if the 15 doesn't work. My oldest has ADHD, and focusing in the morning is very difficult for him until his meds kick in, but that's still no excuse for him not to comply. We've told him everyone has difficulties they must deal with. For those who think that's too harsh...a boss isn't going to cut him slack for the ADHD...he'll get fired if he can't show up for work on time....so he needs to learn to manage it now...and develop coping habits while he's young.

I've also set timers. When my kids were smaller, I game them each their own timer (though my ADHD child could never seem to find his when it was time to use it). Now that they're older, they also have timers on their watches. The timers work to some extent...but the earlier bedtimes seems to work better for us.

Good luck.

My girls are 4yrs old and are the same way. So I had to find something that they loved. They have a love for music. So in the morning we pick out a cd and play it. They have to complete small task per song. This gets them moving and really puts them in a good mood to start their day. Especially their kids praise music from church. Sometimes they get a little distracted performing in their room. Another good cd is the imagination movers from disney.

i havent been through this myself yet. but i know my mom always threatened us with an earlier bed time if we couldnt get ourselves dressed and ready in time for school. not sure if that would work for kids this age or not. but im sure they love being able to stay up till a certain time. no kid seems to want to go to bed early. so if they are too "tired and sluggish" or just plain unmotivated to get dressed by x time they are told... their consequence could be 10 minutes earlier each night till they get it right? let us know what works for you!

Oh they'll get motivated all right. ;) Especially when the teacher starts giving them dirty looks and stern talkings-to for the unacceptable offense of being tardy. Yep, I bet we all remember school... such a LOVELY place, wasn't it. :P

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