L: James, you mentioned accountability. Creating a culture of accountability. What does that mean? Can you explain that and how, what it means to parents and kids.
J: First of all, when we start with accountability, one of the things that I talk to teachers and parents about is creating a culture of accountability. And that culture of accountability occurs between two people. So when we talk about what’s on TV, what they’re learning in the movies, what their video games is, that, that’s fine. But the culture of accountability comes with, this is how I’m gonna talk to you and this is how you have to talk to me. This is what I’m gonna expect of you and this is what you can expect of me. That’s very clearly learned out. That you’re accountable for the way you talk to me and treat me. You’re accountable for your responsibilities and you can expect me to take responsibility to be accountable for my responsibilities. I’m gonna pay the rent, I’m gonna have food on the table, I’m gonna make sure that we have a place to live. You have to talk to me appropriately, you have to do your schoolwork and you have to learn how to solve life’s problems without hurting other people.
MG: I think it’s important to note James that a culture of accountability isn’t just a parent child thing. We even as adults need to be accountable; we are accountable every day to someone.
J: That’s right, well, I don’t think people are accountable to a culture. I think that that develops between people. Between individual people and groups. So even personal relationships and work relationships.
J: Work. I’m accountable to that job. I’m accountable to my role in that business. I’m accountable to that business. They’re gonna pay me, that’s what I expect of them, they expect me to do the role that they defined for me. They also expect me to do it with some quality and some efficiency.
MG: So as a parent, what you’re setting your child up for by expecting him to be accountable to you is the whole mindset that you will always be accountable to someone. This is a coping skill. This is a problem solving skill you have to learn.
J: Absolutely. Look, when you hold your child accountable, when you develop that culture of accountability, you as a parent have a responsibility to teach that child to acquire the skills he’s gonna need to be able to be accountable. People who can’t be accountable for their homework disrespect other people. People who can’t be accountable for their behavior turn it around and challenge you and act out. So when you’re having a culture of accountability, there’s a two–way thing. I expect you to do the right thing and you can expect me to teach you how to do the right thing.
MG: So my job as a parent then is to set specific standards, to set specific goals, to set attainable landmarks that a child can say, if I do this, I become accountable. If I do this, I’m behaving responsibly.
J: Yeah, it’s not only setting goals. It’s giving the skills to reach the goal. So let’s say I’m a parent and my goal is that you’re gonna sink five throws from the free throw line in basketball out of ten. Well I just can’t put you up there with a ball and tell you do it, that’s my goal. I’ve gotta show you how to do it. I’ve gotta show you how you place your feet, how you place your arms. How you propel the ball. I’ve gotta spend some time practicing with you. I’ve gotta show you how to do these things and I’ve gotta practice them. So it’s not setting the goals, it’s giving the kid the skills. Acquiring the skills yourself for an understanding of what it takes. Using the tools and using the skills.
James Lehman had a very personal understanding of kids with behavior problems. He displayed severe oppositional, defiant behaviors as a child and teenager, and became a Behavioral Therapist specializing in helping troubled children, teens and their families for 30 years.
Janet Lehman, MSW Child Behavior Therapist
Janet Lehman has over three decades of clinical experience working with out–of–control children and teens and their parents. Working in group homes and residential treatment centers, Janet helped children with serious behavioral disorders learn to get their behavior under control.
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The alarm goes off and the morning battle begins: you knock on your child’s bedroom door to wake him, but you have to go back time and again to make sure he’s actually up, your voice rising with each “wake-up call.” As the minutes tick by and he still hasn’t gotten out of bed, you resort to screaming and yelling in his face, and then tear the blankets off the bed. In desperation, you pull him out of bed by his 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 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. On the Parental Support Line, 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.
The Good News: You Can Stop Working So Hard
The Total Transformation Program tells parents to stop taking responsibility for getting their kids out of bed on time. If you repeatedly bang on your child’s door to get them up, or you drag them out of bed, you are working harder to wake up your child than they are. As James Lehman says, “You are substituting your extra energy and effort for your child’s.” So if you think about it, why should your child get up on their own when you are willing to do it for them? If they know they don’t really have to get up until mom threatens to bring the ice water, why should they get up at the first ring of the alarm? Ten more minutes is ten more minutes, right?
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.
Make Sleep a Priority
The Total Transformation also recommends that parents institute an earlier bedtime. You might tell your child: “You seem to have a hard time getting up in the morning, which tells me you aren’t getting enough sleep. You need to be up by 7 am on school days. As of today, we are moving your bedtime back to 10 pm on school nights. Once you have shown us that you can get up on time for five days in a row, we’d be happy to move your bedtime back to 11 pm.” If your child does not get up on time, simply state: “I know you want a later bedtime. You’ll have to figure out how to get yourself up on time in order to have that privilege.”
Because of the biological drives I mentioned earlier, it may be hard for your adolescent to go to sleep before 11 p.m. Going to bed by 10 is going to be a little “uncomfortable” for your child. In time, the discomfort and annoyance of having to get into bed with the lights out and no electronics may motivate him or her to get out of bed on time in the morning. Once your child has gotten up on their own for five days in a row, you can change their bedtime to a later hour. If they begin to oversleep again, change it back to 10 pm until they improve.
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.
If you are a Total Transformation customer, you can access the Parental Support Line for help with these and other challenges you’re experiencing with your child. Support Line specialists have helped hundreds of parents customize a plan of action to help your child take responsibility for their morning routine, and we can help you, too. Specialists can also work with you to formulate realistic, appropriate consequences to help enforce the new morning routine. Whatever action you choose, be sure to stick with it. Calmer mornings are within your reach.
Megan Devine is a licensed clinical therapist, a former Parental Support Line Advisor, a speaker, and writer. She is also the bonus-parent to a successfully launched young man. You can find more of her work at www.refugeingrief.com, where she advocates for new ways to live with grief.
I had that problem with my 13 year old. I then changed the way I got him up. I did excately what they are telling us. I also had my husband get them up in the morning when he gets up. Which is an hour earlier than I do. If they are still not up when he leaves for work i will go into their room and tell them. If they are late getting around and forget things that they need for school, well that is their problem I tell them and they should get up and around when they are first told. They don't like to hear that but if we want them to be good adults in the future they will just have to suffer. I have three boys at home 13,12,10. Now that is a job all on it's own.
Comment By : robin42305
I agree with the philosophy of making it the child's responsibility to get up in the morning. I have told my daughter that she will bear the consequences of being late for school, because the school has rules. Although she was late 65 times to school last year, the school did nothing. She doesn't really care about school, so she makes no attempt to get up. If I give her consequences at home, she won't do them. We switched to home schooling so that she could do her school work later in the day. It started off ok, but now she is slacking off. She won't get up in the morning for anything, not just school. She misses out on being with her friends, because by the time she gets up, they have been out and about for hours. I would really like to know what type of consequences really work for teenagers?
Comment By : Chris
This is a great article, with some great insight. My wife and I struggle with our 10 yr. old not wanting to get up in the morning. We have since started implementing the Total Transformation strategy of having him be responsible for getting himself out of bed in the morning and getting himself ready. Since the consequences suggested in the article won't work in our situation, for safety reasons, we have implemented other consequences when he's not ready on time. Those consequences are the loss of a positive. For example, he has a favorite CD he likes to listen to and when he's not ready on time in the morning, he loses that CD for a period of time. When he can go two mornings in a row of being responsible for getting himself ready on time, then he earns his CD back. So far, he's only lost his CD one time, but it took him losing that priveledge for 2 days to change his behavior. Thank you for the reaffirmation of this issue. It's one in which so so many parents struggle.
Comment By : Father in NC
I think this article is great! We constantly hear about parents having a hard time in the mornings. The parents should also check the policies at the school. We recently put the "late consequences" in effect and some parents are not acceptable to the changes. They actually pulled out their child and sent them to another school. They will find out eventually that the other school will not put up with their excuses for being late. I am printing out this article and including it in out community flyers. Thank You
Comment By : CYW
Although I already do most of the things in this article I am one of those parents that has to get up at 5am to start waking my child. She is such a deep sleeper that she can sleep right through the loud fire alarms in our apartment building. As a baby she slept through the night from birth. I can pick her up out of bed stand her up on her feet and let go, she will still be snoring when she hits the floor.We have tried different bedtimes also but she will, if allowed, sleep 14 hours straight. Once I finally get her to stir she gets up fine and gets ready for school. Any ideas on getting a deep sleeper to wake up to an alarm clock? I could really use the extra 2 hours to sleep myself. I don't think putting her to bed at 5pm so she can get up at 7 am is going to work
Comment By : fedexair06
excellent advice. makes it easier to understand they really have a problem and are not just being difficult
Comment By : Suz G.
Good article. It has given me some more ideas on how to get my kids going in the morning.
Comment By : Lori
My 16-year-olds teacher has told me the same thing, but I still felt obligated or that I would suffer some penalty for her actions and attendance until reading this aritcle. I have put a call into her counselor to discuss future plans of getting her to be more responsible for her own schedules.
The article gave me that strength to turn it over to someone else instead of losing sleep and acquiring anger and drama each morning. She does good for a while and now I know what to do when she starts slipping back into bad patterns again. It might cause a little more drama to sit at her room at night an treat her like a young child making sure she goes directly to bed, but in the long run it should be more beneficial for us both in the mornings.
Comment By : Stressed over my Teen
One thing I have done that seems to work-If you cannot get out of bed and if you are not downstairs ready to go at 7:30 AM, that means you need more sleep. Tonight you will go upstairs at 9:00 (or whatever is 1 hour before normal bedtime), and we will continue 9:00 bedtime until you can wak up on your own.
The only reason you can't wake up is because you're not getting enough sleep! When you can start waking up on your own, and be down here at 7:30, you can have a later bedtime.
Comment By : Mom in Chicago
I have 3 teenagers in my home. I have recently implemented a system for getting them out of bed and also into bed on time. I keep a calendar posted where they can see it. Bedtime is 10:00. For every 5 minutes past 10 that they are not in bed, they have to be in bed 5 minutes earlier the next night. Same for the mornings. I wake them up once, then for every 5 minutes they put off getting up, they have to be in bed 5 minutes earlier. They really dont like going to bed earlier, and they are also aware that I actually enjoy then going to bed earlier. My 15 year old actually had to be in bed, lights out, at 8:25 once. She is much more motivated to meet deadlines now. Dawn
Comment By : Dawn
Megan- I believe we may have spoken Friday on this very issue! Thank you for your advice and this article. I followed your suggestions and so far the past two mornings have been much better.....thanks again!
Comment By : Sue
This is a tough one. My 9-year-old and I had this very problem this morning. I let him set his clock and after 5 full minutes of the alarm beeping, I had to go in there and wake him up. He didn't even hear it! It took him 30 minutes to get up and get going, and I am constantly having to stay on him. I've tried making him go to bed earlier but it doesn't seem to work very well. I will keep trying, though. Surely he'll get it one of these days! The other thing that makes it so hard is the fact that he spends every Wednesday night with his dad and he doesn't make my son go to bed at a decent school-night bedtime hour. Therefore, we are constantly in the "one step forward, two steps back" situation. Thanks for the articles and suggestions. I am determined to conquer this by the time he is out of the 4th grade!!
Comment By : sams_mom
Here's what works for my two teen sons: 1) Wake up call #1: I turn on the lights with a loud "It's 6, GET UP!" I put a chocolate Instant Breakfast drink right next to their beds. After 10 minutes, I walk in and expect them to have their feet out of bed and on the floor. If they don't, I calmly walk into my bathroom, fill a glass of water, and pour it on their heads. Food first, feet on the floor or mom's water torture. My boys need food to wake up...and then an IMMEDIATE consequence they can't stand! I have not had to use water torture at all this year. BTW, after school consequences for forgeting to take their schoolwork, gym clothes, hw, grades, etc. include doing MY jobs I do my jobs every day: food, clothes, transportation for them. If they don't do their jobs at school, I have lots of white tile that constantly needs cleaning, as well as floors to vacumn, clothes to wash, beds to make.... So they become MY maids! They seem to survive without their cell phones or X-Box 360 (weak consequences), but they HATE doing housework! I tell them, "If you don't get to school and work THERE, you will have to work HERE." I also remind them that without a high school diploma and college education, they can always work as a maid ;-) This system is working great!
Comment By : pray4sneaux
I work @ a pediatric hospital in the sleep lab. It sounds like from the description you're describing and the snoring that you're child is having that the child needs to be accessed for sleep apnea. I recommend that you contact your pediatrician and ask for your child to be scheduled for a sleep study at a near by hospital. Snoring and deep sleep in the A.M. hours are 2 key identification triggers associated with Sleep Apnea. Much Luck in the days to come. Deane Peck MS,RD,LDN.
Comment By : ach
I have a 51/2 year old that is in Kindergarten. My husband has always just gotten her dressed in bed while she is still sleeping so that we can avoid the meltdowns that come with EVERYTHING. We just got the Total Transformation program and I think it will be good. My only qustion about the getting up part is when are they old enough to get up and get them selves ready? Is 5 too young to start? My issues with many stories is that I have problems making them fit for a 5 yr old. Small number HUGE tude.
Comment By : Sandy
* Dear Sandy: A five-year-old can usually learn to get dressed on their own without many problems. I think your daughter may still be too young to get up by herself and get ready all by herself in the mornings, though. I would expect that she would still require and enjoy some interaction with a parent on school days. If the issue is that she has never dressed herself, I would recommend learning the techniques later on in the day instead of during the morning rush. Perhaps you can start by having her undress herself at night and then dress herself for bed. Make sure she’s not overly tired during these practices. When she has mastered the evening, start introducing the idea that she is going to participate in dressing herself in the morning by having her lay out her clothes for the next day the night before. Make sure that you allow for extra time to reduce the possibility of frustration or anxiety that comes with feeling rushed. After she is taking part in helping to dress herself in the morning, you can show her how to use an alarm clock to wake herself up.
I hope this is helpful -- please let us know how it goes!
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
In response to FedExair06 - I have an 18 yr old that would have horrible times getting up - come home to take a nap and she recalls when she played with friends as a little girl that she always wanted to play the baby so she could sleep! A pediatrician insisted recently that we get a sleep study done instead of just writing a prescription for ADD medication - she is now on a CPAP machine and what a difference! It's hard for them to get used to but she sees such a differnce now that she is even taking the machine with her to the beach with her friends over spring break next week! I recommend a sleep study to you. (We're a fedex family too) I also implemented these morning tips from Mr. Lehman for my son (15) and it has worked very well for him.
Comment By : My kids mom
I've been dealing with this with my daughter, now 15, for years. When I tried the, "get up yourself or get yourself to school" technique, she simply didn't go to school. This caused her to be referred to a truancy/dropout prevention program which pretty much punished me more than her. I took her to the meetings, she sat for the alloted time then I took her home. And the next morning she "missed" the bus again. She failed 8th grade due to excessive absences. Now she is in a private school which she LOVES but I have to drive her too. A boy in the neighborhood also attends there so I drive them in the morning and his family makes the return trip. But she still can't/won't get up in the morning. What i *should* do now is to tell her that if she's not ready by _____ time, I will take "Matt" to school and leave her. HOWEVER I am terrified that she will destroy my house when she does get up. She has terrible destructive rages. She no longer has a bedroom door because she's battered 2 to pieces in fits of rage and the shower curtain she now has over her doorway has long cuts in it that she's made simply out of spite. I am at my wit's end.
I am new to this site and I would like to tell everyone how much I appreciate seeing I'm not alone!
Comment By : SJB
my son is in college he is 18yrs old . He has inherited his mums lack of liking mornings. they do like to stay up late , so the circle keeps going. I have tried the stereo on downstairs but he just gor up and turned it off. meetings at college , incentives, of how much money he could earn doing IT. Nothing works for long , it is all as if it will come to him , what is the problem . He is a smashing lad , and once up he goes , but even today after the half term he stayed up till what time , I do not know. I rang him at 10am he answered, but still did not go to college. I want treat him like a young man but he acts like a 9 yr old when it comes to being able to get up . His attendce is only 50% and the tutor has warned him twice that he will not get his 2 yr diploma course for free. even if his work is good. Any thougts please. Sorry for being so long .
Comment By : Stressed dad
Well my grandson is 19 months old and refuses to get out of bed even though he is awake! How common or uncommon is this? He is healthy, gets stimulation in different forms and it happens on days when my daughter is home with him as well as days when either his other grandmother or myself look after him.
Comment By : Christina
* Dear Christina:
It’s not at all unusual for a toddler to play in their crib before falling asleep or for a time after waking up. Many children enjoy this quiet time to themselves. If you are concerned that your grandson is avoiding physical contact or socialization, have your daughter describe to his pediatrician the details of the behaviors she is concerned about. His pediatrician will be able to tell you if he’s on track developmentally.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
My son is almost 18 and is a senior in high school. This is EXACTLY what we have gone through ALL his life. I am tempted to have him read this article. Would you recommend that?
Comment By : Rhonda
* Hi Rhonda, Thank you for your excellent question. Actually, we usually don't recommend that parents have their kids read these articles. That's because it's important for parents to "assume control" in order to establish a "culture of accountability" in their homes, as James Lehman says. What that means is that it's important for parents to learn how to take charge. For that reason, we don't want the program to become the authority in the home. It's also the reason we don't talk to kids on the Parental Support Line. I hope this answers your question. Good luck, and please let us know how it goes.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
I have a seven year old and I have trouble getting him up in the mornings. I have been working the Total Transformation System for about a week. This morning after numerous calls to get him out of bed. He finally got up but refused to dress himself. (I have been dressing him prior to this.) I told him "That's fine, if you don't get dressed you can go to school in your night clothes." This just appalled him, so he got dressed. I have a long road in front of me, but Thank you Mr Lehman.
Comment By : Nana
what i would like to add -
please do understand that some bipolar children literally cannot get out of bed in the morning. it goes beyond the biological drive of normal teenagers and children. it's called sleep inertia and no amount of punishing or making them go to bed earlier is going to help, generally.
check it out here...
just a thought.
Comment By : marie
I've found that scheduling something fun in the morning seems to work for my 4th grader. He gets bummed when he doesn't get to help make pancakes/waffles or whatever we're making (usually his choice the night before). He also gets bummed if his dad leaves for work and he doesn't get a chance to say goodbye (if this happens it's because he did not get out of bed the first time). But think about it, who wants to get up to go to school? Have them get up to do something they enjoy!
Comment By : reg
Wow, so I am not alone! My daughter is eleven and will not get up - She and her brothers attend a private school and this morning it turned ugly because once again, she made them late. She was in tears not wanting to go, talking back, me fussing - it was awful - Something has got to change - My concern is there is not much to take away as far as consequences go - She plays sports and is a cheerleader and I work full time - She goes to school and then I pick her up from after care at about 6pm. All we have time to do is come home, eat dinner, do homework and go to bed. I have pushed her bedtime up - I love the additional chores idea but it would almost have to be on the weekend and her dad gets her on every other one so sometimes it would be a week and a half before she carries out her punishment - not much incentive at the time - Any advice is much appreciated!
Comment By : lv2bmom3
* Dear 'lv2bmom3':
Consider calling the support line staff to discuss in detail what is happening at home with your daughter so that we can give you specific advice for your situation. It sounds like you’re very scheduled and so you might try doing less instead of asking her to do more chores, for example. It’s good that you have moved her bedtime up because if she is having trouble waking up, she likely is not getting the rest her body needs. Make sure you check with her pediatrician to rule out any sleep disorders or other medical conditions. All kids need free time to ‘wind down’ at the end of the day in preparation for going to sleep. Try to notice if there is a calm environment in the evening in your household as everyone gets ready for bed. And try for a calm environment in the morning—having enough time to get ready in the morning without feeling rushed and tense every day. Sometimes when kids feel overwhelmed, thinking just shuts down, emotions take over, and efficiency goes out the window. Give us a call. We’d be glad to give you more ideas on how to use the techniques in the Total Transformation program.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
My son would sleep through a nuclear explosion. Right or wrong, the way I got my teenager to start waking up was with a water gun. I told him of my intentions and told him that it was not meant to harm him but to train his subconcious to wake up with the alarm clock.
So, when his alarm clock would start going off, I would wait a few minutes to allow him time to hear it, then if he did not wake up to shut it off I would squirt him one time with the water gun. It took a few mornings, but he actually started shutting the alarm off and getting up.
Comment By : Bobby
My 15 year old son will swear and hit the walls and threaten to break things or punch us.....who can deal with this stuff.....we are taking him to a psych dr. but nothing seems to work he is late at least one to two times each week...I am at my wits end...punishment doesnt seem to work. We have babied him because he is ADHD and also has epilepsy but these are no excuses for his behavior. Any thoughs welcom
Comment By : Sad Mom
Ok! My almost 16 year old will wake at the crack of dawn when his alarm goes off to meet mates. It goes off on school days..he will not wake up. His problem is msn, facebook etc. Ive tried hiding his laptop/phone, his response? Remove fuses from electric cupboard!! His 14 year old brother wakes up no problem. Im single and cant drag my son out of bed, because he shoves me across the room. He gets up late (after an hour of begging and screaming) and refuses to go to school. Any ideas?? He is due to start college next year, he will be moving to his fathers house, his father leaves the house at 5am, so if im not there to wake him up??
Comment By : snowyowl
* Dear ‘snowyowl’:
You’ve tried many things to ‘make’ your son get up in the mornings. Getting into a power struggle, begging or screaming has not worked. Even if you manage to wake him up, he refuses to go to school. Instead of you trying to ‘make him’ get up, ‘allow him’ to get himself up. As you point out, he’s been able to get himself up on the weekends, so he can hear an alarm and wake up. Tell him that going forward, he cannot count on you to be his ‘snooze alarm’. Let him know he’s on his own in the mornings. As you say, next year you won’t be there to wake him up anyway. Turn this responsibility over to him now so he learns this skill.
Comment By : Carole Banks, Parental Support Line Advisor
Hi, I have a 15 year old daughter who refuses to get up in the mornings. My problems with her are long, but this is just one of the many. My daughter used to be a straight A student. However, she is making poor choices in friends and the way she lives. She doesn't do her homework, she is smoking cigarettes, and one time while my husband (her step-father) and I were away for the evening, she was supposed to be staying at a friends, we caught her in our house with friends drinking and smoking weed. Her real father thinks there is nothing wrong with her and tells me I'm too critical of her. I put down punishments for her poor choices and actions, but her dad does the opposite-ie; I took her phone away as a punishment, her dad went out and bought her a new one, I tell her she cannot hang out with friends because her grades are so low, he comes and picks her up and drops her off at a friends house. So when she is home with me, she does not respect me and refuses to get up for school on time. I could go on and on, and have every intention of petitioning the courts to take away his visitation rights because of this, but she tells me she wants to live with him. He actually took her to a Spa to get her eyebrows waxed, a manicure and a pedicure the day after I found her here partying with her friends with alcohol and weed. By the way, she also took off that night after she was caught and we looked for her for 4 hours-we didn't find her until 4am. Police were also involved. I'm reaching here, found this website, and I need some major advice. I know this is suppose to be just about the "not getting out of bed" thing, but found it difficult to stop at just that. I am actually sitting waiting for her to get dressed for school so I can take her. She is already late. My next move is to contact her schools "Liason officer". I am hoping he can come over on mornings like this to drag her out of bed for me. What do you think? I'm at my witts end.
Comment By : FedupMother
* Dear ‘FedupMother’: It sounds like are very worried about your daughter and feeling a bit frustrated. In situations like this, we always encourage utilizing local supports. The school’s liaison officer is a good place to start--contact this person and see how he/she can help. We urge you, though, not to ignore the substance use issue. It is important to remember that when children become involved with drugs and alcohol, their problem solving skills can break down and any attempts to work on other behaviors might not be as effective (See “Yes, Your Kid is Smoking Pot” What Every Parent Needs to Know Now). You can visit www.211.org, an information and referral website run by the United Way to find a local drug and alcohol counselor. Remember, you must clearly define the problem in order to find the best, most effective solution.
Comment By : Sara A. Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
Not mentioned in this article (or in the comments) is that several states have instituted laws regarding school absences/tardiness that hold the parents accountable. This includes the possibility of jail time. So, while you may want to build responsibility on your child's behalf, you need to keep in mind that you may be legally responsible for making sure they attend school.
Comment By : Jon
Your suggestions would work if my daughter cared! She is 13 and some days will not get up for school. It does not matter if I take her things away, ground her from activites, or give her chores. For one, she won't do the chores, 2 - she will go to bed early but does not fall asleep until very late...It is a vicious cycle. My husband and I are frustrated. She is our youngest of five kids...should it not be getting easier not harder! We are going to a counselor next week to help us. We have had meetings with the school principle about her grades slipping.I do not know what else to do.
Comment By : Frustrated Mom
Maybe all this works for younger kids, but not my 16 year old. He doesn't care if I get into trouble because with all these fascist state laws it is the parents who get in trouble these days. These rules don't work when the state says the parents are the guilty ones for children who don't give a damn. I'd kick him out if I could, but unfortunately I have another year of hell.
Comment By : me
I have a 21 year old child who is a career sleeper she mixes up night with day
and sleeps sometimes until 1 or 2 oc in the afternoon its apsolutely crazy
She has a really good opportunity to better herself as she got into this good college which she hardly ever attends
At this stage I have given up she wont get up and has no motivation to do anything she has very few friends and apsolutely no interest in anything
Is their anything I can do to get this sorted
Comment By : jwt
* To 'jwt': It can be so frustrating when you have a child living at home who appears to have little to no motivation to do anything. Many parents feel even more frustrated when this is an adult child, because they feel that their hands are tied. James Lehman talks about how kids tend to use inappropriate behavior because they lack effective problem solving abilities. It might be helpful for you to start with having a problem solving conversation with your daughter, where you talk about specific, concrete things she will do to make sure she gets to class every day. An example of this might be “I will turn off all electronics by 10PM, and go to bed by 11PM every night”. If you are concerned about her sleeping habits, her lack of motivation, and disinterest in activities, it might be helpful to look into some local resources as well. A good place to start is www.211.org. 211 is an informational service that can help to connect you with resources in your area. You can also reach them by calling 1 (800) 273-6222. I am also including a link to an article on problem solving that I think you might find helpful: The Surprising Reason for Bad Child Behavior: "I Can't Solve Problems." Good luck to you and your daughter as you continue to work through this.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
It is true as long as you continue to do the work and get your child up they will allow you to. My husband and I had discussion after discussion regarding this topic as he continued to be our youngest sons( age 16) alarm clock. I asked my husband to please stop this cycle. Told my son if there was a problem with the clock in his room he was welcome to take mine and that if he was not up he would not be going to school. Not going to school means not being allowed to be part of extra curricular activities. Since this conversation my husband has never woken my son up and he has yet to miss school. This can and does work. I also recommend trying to get your kids interested in something dance music art photography sports anything and build a connection with them. For both of my kids it has motivated and helped strengthen our family plus it gives them something to look forward too as they get out of bed.
Comment By : Mothership
i want my child to wash clothes, fold clothes, and put every ones up. i also make him sweep, vacuum, mop clean all the bathrooms every other week, dust every thing, and mow two lawns without paying him. ii pay him with Christmas and his birthday also i pay him with a nice house he can sleep safely in. My husband and I work to 5pm and 8pm. am i asking to much
Comment By : random mom
* To ‘random mom’: It sounds like you have concerns that your expectations might be too high. Many parents experience some doubt from time to time as to whether they are doing the “right” thing. Ultimately, the number and kinds of chores you ask your son to complete are up to you. When establishing chore assignments for a child you do want to take the age of the child into consideration. If your son is 22, this workload is a lot different than if he is 6! In other words, it’s appropriate for an older teen but not a young child. You also want to consider what other important responsibilities he has—school? A job? Consider whether the completion of these chores is interfering with his ability to meet his other responsibilities. On a final note, it is normal for kids to complain about their chores and resist doing them a bit, but if your son is routinely saying that the workload here is too much or that he’s overwhelmed, it’s okay to hear him out and see if you can make some adjustments. I’m including an article with some good pointers for talking to kids about chores: Kids, Chores and Responsibilities.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I have one problem that maybe you guys can offer advise on:
I have a 13year boy that is IMPOSSIBLE to get out of bed in time to make the bus at 6:45am. I started letting him face "natural consequences", like this and other articles recommend, by having an earlier bed time (although he still doesn't fall asleep before 11 on most nights), and riding his bike to school if he misses the bus (as opposed to me lugging my three younger children in the car and brining him). Easy enough, right? This worked in the sense that it took the stress off of me and eliminated our screaming matches in the mornings.
HOWEVER, he was just fine sleeping in and riding his bike in the mornings. He was late so often that I actually got a court summons for truancy!! Me, the PARENT, was facing up to a $500 fine because my son was late getting HIMSELF to school. So, we're back to me literally pulling him out of bed by his long teenage legs each morning (and the occasional glass of ice water on the back)! HELP!
Comment By : FRUSTRATED
* To ‘FRUSTRATED’: It’s clear to see why you are feeling so fed up with your son. It is not uncommon for kids to start having some changes in sleeping patterns around your son’s age, making it very difficult for them to get up in the morning. While I understand that you feel like what you were doing to let your son experience the natural consequences of getting up didn’t work, we still would not recommend trying to physically get him out of bed in the morning. When you try to literally drag him out of bed, it sends him the message that you don’t believe he is capable of getting up on his own, so he might think, “What’s the point?” I would recommend going back to the earlier bedtime and having him ride his bike to school with a couple additions. First of all, problem solve with him. Ask him what makes it so hard for him to get up and talk about one thing he can change to get better at getting himself out of bed. Second, you can use your own consequences and rewards. For example, if he doesn’t get to school on time, he loses his video games for the day. Or, if he gets himself to school on time every day for the week, he gets to rent a movie or video game for the weekend. Rewards and consequences should be in the form of something your child values. We do recommend that you keep a journal of your son’s tardies and how you held him accountable. Should you end up going to court you will be able to show that you are giving your son every opportunity to get to school and ask that the consequence be on him, perhaps in the form of community service or something like that. We wish you luck as you continue to work through this. Take care.
Comment By : Sara Bean, M.Ed., Parental Support Advisor
I am reading all of these articles and I'm seeing much of what I am going through combined. My son is 17 and a Senior. He is impossible to get up and after several times of course you end up yelling to get up. He is truant constantly and I don't want to lose my job so after a certain time I have to leave and go to work. He cusses me out constantly, threatens to get violent and yes, they go after YOU as a parent in court in Texas. He has recently been diagnosed bipolar and refuses to take his medication or attend the therapy sessions I schedule, which I get fined when I can't get him to go. The mornings are horrible. He refuses to go to bed early and if I try to put my foot down he goes nuts on me and it's not even safe for me to try. I've begged his father "Uncle-dad" to help me or take him to finish school for peace for my 8th grade daughter and he doesn't want to lift a finger. My 14 year old daughter is tip-toeing around knowing he goes into manic rages if you try to get him up. If I spray him with a water gun I run the risk of being seriously assaulted. I've had numerous meetings with the school in regards to this but again you can't physically force a 17 year old boy to get in the car and go. My body is exhausted, I'm a single mom of 2 kids and I don't see how he's going to make it to graduation this year at this rate (failing everything from truancy). Bording schools, military schools etc. cost a lot of $$ that I don't have. And for the first time the other day we get a visit from the police and he was arrested for the first time for stealing (when he has everything handed to him- or did). He got to school today but very late but it's the best I could do. Please help.
Comment By : Exhausted
* To “Exhausted”: Thank you for sharing your story. It certainly sounds like you have a lot on your plate right now. I can only imagine how exhausted you must feel. You make a great point: you can’t make your son go to school because you can’t control the choices your son makes. So, let’s focus on what you can control, namely, your responses and choices. As Kim Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner point out in their article Your Defiant Child’s Behavior: 5 Things You Can—and Can’t—Control as a Parent “once we let go of trying to control our child’s behavior and choices, we actually gain much more power.” At this point, it’s probably going to be helpful to take a step back from the morning routine power struggle and allow the natural consequences of your son’s choices to take effect. Ultimately, school is your son’s responsibility and there are natural consequences, such as not getting to graduate on time, which will occur if he doesn’t follow through and meet that responsibility. If he refuses to get up after you tell him it is time, it’s OK to leave him and bed and go about your day. We would suggest you call the school and let them know your son is refusing to get up and go and that it isn’t an excused absence. You can hold him accountable for not going by limiting the privileges he has access to. You’re right that it probably isn’t a good idea to use a water gun as a means to wake him, especially if it could lead to an escalation that would make it unsafe for other people in the house. Something to keep in mind is that safety of all family members is very important. It might be helpful to contact your local crisis line and develop a safety plan in case your son’s behavior escalates to a point where anyone’s safety is an issue. You can find your local crisis number by contacting the 211 National Helpline at 1-800-273-6222. Here are a couple articles you might also find helpful for your situation: ODD Kids: How to Manage Violent Behavior in Children and Teens & How to Talk to Police When Your Child is Physically Abusive. We hope this is helpful for your situation and wish you and your family the best of luck as you work through this challenging situation. Take care.
Comment By : D. Rowden, Parental Support Advisor
I'm going to comment on this story very similarly to what I said on this website's other post about sleeping problems.
As a 25 year old adult with ADHD, I have had problems being late all of my life. Had my parents given up and made me take responsibility for being on time, at that age, with no other resources, I couldn't have done it. A child who is chronically late has an issue that needs to be addressed, not ignored. I also was an A/B student, so I aced my way through high school, and now college.
Most of you are parents, so I'll give you the only advice I know from your child's perspective. What I write here is regarding someone who is CHRONICALLY LATE, not a child who is late every now and again, so please bear that in mind. My parents' punishments did not affect me. I missed school multiple times, and almost failed my senior year in high school because of missing my first hour excessively. I am not a disrespectful person, and it honestly bothers me that I am late. I HATE wasting other people's time, and I feel guilty about it almost every day. I never intend to hurt or offend anyone, and I never intend to be late. I set multiple alarms daily, and my sister calls me every single morning. None of those work regularly to actually get me up and out of bed.
This is what IS working so far (I am still in the process of addressing my behavior issues).
1. RE-learning how much time things take to do. I think it takes me 5 minutes to get ready; it takes me an hour. I think it takes me 15 minutes to get to school; it takes 45. I am having to RELEARN how much time things take to get done. That is one of the biggest issues I have - thinking that things take approximately 30% less time than they actually do, and then stuffing so many things all into a few minutes, which of course, is impossible.
2. Read the book "Never Be Late Again." It describes different personality types and why various types of people are late. It offers PRACTICAL advice to break the bad habits that are involved with being tardy.
3. I have realized that I suffer from "busy syndrome," or always trying to fit in one last item from my to-do list before I leave. And that one last item always makes me late. I am learning how to stop doing that.
4. ROUTINE IS IMPORTANT! Everyone hates it, as I'm sure your child will. But you know better than they do, so you TEACHING THEM EARLY how to implement and STICK TO a routine of going to bed early is SO IMPORTANT!! My parents never did that, and now at 25 I'm having to learn how. I am learning to implement a daily routine of INCREDIBLY SPECIFIC ITEMS to do before bedtime and immediately upon waking up. See "The Happy Project" articles titled "Seven Tips for Getting Yourself to Go to Bed on Time" and "Seven Tips if You're Chronically Late" for more info on these things.
For chronically late people, there is NO easy fix for this! It takes hard work and continually relearning things, implementing routines, and sticking to disciplines. It is not a thing that can be easily cured with a quick punishment. For people who aren't late, you may think, oh can't you just wake up 20 minutes earlier? The truth is no, I can't. It doesn't work that way. Because when I do wake up 20 minutes earlier, I think I've got more time to do something else, so I make a nice breakfast and then I'm running just as late as usual. I'm having to relearn patterns of behavior. It is NOT an easy thing, but having PATIENCE and sticking to specific regimens will really help with learning timing for things and how to realistically plan out your day.
fedexair, see if you can find a gifted program or advanced classes that CHALLENGE her somewhere else. I breezed through high school not being challenged, and college was a HUGE wake up call. I had to learn how to study, learn how to do homework and actually ENGAGE in class. My school had a gifted program, but it wasn't challenging academically. It just challenged me with logical thinking puzzles and out of the box things. They were GREAT, but certainly could have been more challenging. I don't know when the article was written as the date is not shown, but I hope this advice is still helpful.
Parents, do not give up on your kids. You HAVE to TEACH THEM these practices, or else they will be stuck learning it WAY too late in life. Most kids would NOT learn this if you just said hey it's your call. READ THE BOOK and implement the strategies - it makes the difference in their lives!
Comment By : jaddison1023
I have an 8 year old daughter, she will be 9 in March 2013. I have so much trouble getting her out of bed in the morning. It took 40 minutes to get her out of bed this morning and then another 20 minutes to eat a bowl of cereal. I need suggestions as to how to get her out of bed at 6 am in the morning so we can leave on time. I am at my wits end, I told her every night except Wednesday she will be going to bed at 8pm. What can I do????
Comment By : JenGiltner
* To JenGiltner: You are not alone in feeling this frustration over your daughter refusing to get out of bed in the morning. Looking at an earlier bedtime sounds like a great start. In addition, we recommend having a problem-solving conversation with your daughter about what she is going to do differently to make sure that she is ready on time in the mornings. You might also consider doing an incentive system with her where she can earn extra time with a privilege on the mornings she is ready for school on time. You can find more information on how to set up incentives in the article Child Behavior Charts: How to Use Behavior Charts Effectively We wish you the best as you continue to work through this with your daughter.
Comment By : Rebecca Wolfenden, Parental Support Advisor
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