Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012
How to tame chaos in morning routine
BY KAREN DEERWESTER
Situation: My child won't cooperate when we have to get out of the house on weekday mornings. It's one fight after another.
1. Reclaim your confidence. You can't change anything if you question your ability. Avoid screaming and emotional drama. Do as much as you can in advance to control your stress. The night before, make sure your child's school uniform is washed and the car keys are where they should be.
2. Talk to your child the night before. Explain in one or two sentences that mornings are not working the way they are right now, and you're looking forward to a better way, in which there'll be less fighting.
3. Identify where you need to make concrete changes. Do you need to wake up your child earlier? Set a limit on certain activities? You may want to designate 15 minutes for breakfast, 10 minutes to get dressed, or the maximum number of snooze buttons. Do you need to get yourself dressed earlier so you are able to help your child? Make concrete changes that your child can understand: Set a game timer and play Beat the Clock. Get better organized: Store backpacks and shoes near the door, or pack lunches with your child the night before.
4. Communicate the plan to your child. You can't succeed alone, so be sure your child knows what's expected of him. Make it short and sweet: "Tomorrow we start our new no-fighting mornings." Or: "Tomorrow we make it to the car with all our stuff by 7:30."
5. Anticipate what could go wrong. If your child reenacts Moses parting the Red Sea in his bowl of oatmeal every day, you might need to set a specific time to have the dishes in the sink. Or remember to check to see if your child sat down to watch TV again or is making soap castles in the bathroom sink. Be proactive to get your child back on track.
6. Keep moving forward, calmly and confidently, no matter what. Stick to the priorities. If you're fighting over socks, forget the socks but get the shoes. When it's time to go, just go. You can finesse the details tomorrow.
These tips are excerpted from Karen Deerwester's book, "The Entitlement-Free Child". She is also the author of "The Potty Training Answer Book" and the owner of Family Time Coaching and Consulting. She offers one-on-one parent coaching, as well as classes and seminars. She is also Mommy & Me director at B'nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton, where she works with mothers, infants and toddlers through age 2. Get more information about B'nai Torah's early childhood education program here. Visit the Family Time website and follow Karen on Twitter @FamilyTimeInc.