11 Simple Morning Routine Tips for Kids
Do you have a hard time getting your kid moving in the morning? Well, back-to-school time is just around the corner, and you might not be looking forward to the battles ahead when it comes to getting your child out of bed and ready for school.
Before becoming a stay-at-home mommy, I was a Child and Adolescent Therapist. So I worked with a lot of parents on establishing a morning routine for their kids. And there are actually a good bit of simple techniques that you can use to establish and stick to a morning routine for your child.
So here are some important tips to keep in mind when trying to get your kid ready for the day ahead. When you put them all together and use them consistently, you can get your child on track with a morning routine in no time.
Morning Routine Tips
1. Ensure that your child is getting enough sleep.
It can be very difficult to establish a morning routine if your child is not going to bed at a decent time and getting an appropriate amount of sleep in the first place. Therefore, if your child has a hard time waking up in the morning, it may be helpful to establish a bedtime routine in addition to a morning routine.
2. Make it a habit for your child to prepare things he needs the night before.
The less your child has to do in the morning, the less likely he will get overwhelmed or distracted. So think of things that your child can prepare the night before instead of waiting until morning to do. For example, perhaps your child could pick out his clothes and pack his backpack in the evening. And be sure that homework is completed the day before as well.
3. Model your morning routine for your child.
If your child sees you frantically running around in the morning trying to prepare for the day, it could potentially affect your child behaviorally and emotionally. This could be anxiety-provoking for your child. So be sure to calmly model the use of a consistent morning routine before expecting your child to adhere to one.
4. Create a morning routine for your child, and follow it consistently.
First, come up with a list of tasks that your child needs to do in order to get ready in the morning. These tasks might include things like brushing teeth, getting dressed, and combing hair. You can write these down on a poster if you think your child could benefit from having a visual aid. You could also use a behavior chart, such as the free one I offer below, as a visual aid to keep your child on track. Establish what time your child needs to begin these tasks and, ultimately, what time he will need to complete them.
5. Prompt your child throughout the process as needed.
If you just tell your child “Get ready” or “Go do your morning routine,” you may often find that he gets distracted along the way. Or perhaps he is still doing the same activity that he was engaged in when you first prompted him to get ready. That’s because children often need some help to keep them going. So be sure to prompt your child to complete the specific tasks along the way. For example, instead of requesting your child to “Get ready,” say “Brush your teeth.” Remember that you may even need to break tasks down further than this. So instead of “Get dressed,” you might need to tell your child, “Put on your shirt” and “Put on your socks and shoes,” depending on your child’s developmental level or how easily distracted he gets.
6. Reduce distractions.
Be sure that the television is turned off while your child is getting ready. And be sure that your child does not have access to anything else that may distract him during this time.
7. Ensure that your child is following through with the steps of his morning routine, and praise him each step of the way.
Make sure that your child is starting his first task before you walk away, and praise him for getting started. He may also need prompting to begin each consecutive step, at least until the routine becomes second nature to him. Be sure to praise him as he is completing these steps, as well as after he has finished getting ready. Praising your child each step of the way will help to keep him going.
8. Do not attend to any off-task behaviors.
If your child appears off-task, redirect him back to the specific task he should be working on. And try not to otherwise give too much attention to any off-task behaviors. If needed, you may remind your child how much time he has to complete a task or provide a warning of the consequence that he will face for not getting ready on time.
9. Use a timer if needed.
Using a timer can help your child to stay on task and keep him motivated to complete tasks before the timer goes off. Therefore, if your child needs a little extra help with getting moving, consider the use of a timer. This may require some extra work for you, as you may need to set the timer several times in the morning if your child is not able to use the timer independently. But it could be well worth the effort. If you are not using a timer, be sure that your child has easy access to a clock that he can refer to in order to check his time and progress. Racing against a timer or clock can also add a component of fun to the entire morning routine, which may further help your child get ready on time.
10. Use a behavior chart if needed.
Some kids need a little extra help with this behavior, so here is where using a behavior chart can be handy. I know… using a behavior chart is not really a simple tip, which is why I am giving you a bonus tip at the end of this post. However, it is an advanced technique that is actually quite simple to use once you get the hang of it. The behavior chart would provide a visual aid for your child so that he could see each step of his morning routine, and it would also involve being rewarded for his good behavior. You could reward your child for completing each task of the routine on time and also reward your child at the end of the week for completing his morning routine on time for a certain amount of days.
Interested in using a behavior chart? Grab a free morning routine chart right here!
11. Enforce consequences for your child not following through.
You want to place much more emphasis on all of the techniques mentioned above, rather than focusing too much on discipline. However, you do want to have a consequence in place in case your child does not follow through with his morning routine. Try to choose a consequence that can be delivered immediately, but also one that does not further interfere with your child making it to school/daycare on time.
If you know that your child struggles with his morning routine or transitioning back to school, then start implementing these tips 3 weeks before he heads back to school. This will give him some time to get used to the routine. It will also help to avoid overwhelming him with a bunch of changes once school starts up again.
This may all sound like a lot of work, but sooner or later, your child will get used to the routine and will be able to complete it a lot more independently. After he has mastered his morning routine, you can slowly and gradually pull back on some of these steps.
Want a little extra help getting your kid to listen? Take my FREE mini course!
Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist before I became a stay-at-home mom, I am not your therapist or your child’s therapist. Reading this post does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline and has not been individually tailored to the needs of you and your child. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor or behavior specialist.
References: My information comes from years of training on Applied Behavior Analysis, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and other evidence-based techniques. I also like to refer to Russell Barkley and Alan Kazdin.
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