9 Ways to Boost Your Child's Positive Attitude Before the Bus Comes
- Plan Ahead - Does your child always lag behind in the morning because they can't find matching socks or their homework? Start preparing for morning the night before. Lay out clothing (down to socks and shoes), sign all papers, pack lunch and put it all by the door. This may sound simple but it really does cut down on morning anxiety. If your child is on medication, use a pill organizer so that you can tell if they have already taken their morning meds. A hectic morning could result in double-dosing. Avoid this at all costs.
- Get a Good Night's Sleep - A good night's sleep can never be underestimated. Parents, this goes for you too. Lack of sleep can cause problems related to health, performance on the job AND stress at home. Be firm. Set a reasonable bedtime and then let them EARN a later bedtime based on their daily performance. For example, base bedtime could be 9:00 p.m. If the child does well that day at school and at home (no bad reports, no time outs) then they can extend to 9:30 as a reward. They may go from complaining about 9:00 p.m. to actually APPRECIATING 9:30 as an alternative.
- Rise and Shine: Parents - Learn to embrace the morning. Wake up an extra 15 minutes early and make yourself some coffee. Go sit on the porch in the morning air and breathe in the fresh air. A slow start may give you more patience and tolerance to deal with whatever comes your way.
- Rise and Shine: Kids - If your kids are still young (like mine) you can get away with a little more creativity. There was a time when getting my kids up was like awaking a couple of beasts in a cave. They'd whine - No, I'm tired - or - I just went to sleep - or -I hate morning! and the list goes on. One day I thought I'd add a little spice to morning. I was going to let them control the process. My children all LOVE music so I cranked up the stereo and within 5 minutes they were all up and singing along. It was like a miracle! Now every morning we do the same ritual. Loud music CAN be good for the soul. When my kids were younger I would sing to them until they woke up. Rise and shine lazy, sleepy head. Get your lazy bones out of the bed!? I picked a goofy song from my own childhood (Patch the Pirate) that they would surely find reason to smile about.
- Time to Get a Grip - Even kids need time to adjust to a new day. Don't wake them up with only 15 minutes to spare! This is a recipe for disaster. We usually make some time for ourselves as parents - even if it is while we drive to work. Remember that kids need time to prepare for the day, too.
- Talk to Them - Use the extra time that you save from preparing ahead of time to talk to your children. Ask them what they are doing at school that day or if there are any tests coming up. Get to know their schedule and their morning rituals. If your child is nonverbal, speak to them as if they're going to speak back. This will help to open the channels of communication between you and will model good communication skills for your child.
- Laugh with Them - Tell them something funny. Even if it is something silly like reading the comics on the cereal box, in the paper, or telling them something that happened to you the day before - let them know that you still can laugh. We love it when our 10-year-old son, Michael, laughs. Michael has Autism and loves tickle fights. His sister says that "he laughs so hard his eyes disappear!" Laughter is something that we can indulge in and doesn't cost us a thing.
- Feed Them - Remember: garbage in = garbage out. Breakfast is the most important meal of your day. Don't skimp or skip. Your child needs nutrients in order to learn. Read the boxes or make a hot breakfast. Make sure that there is something of value to your child's health contained in your breakfast choices.
- Hug Them - Your children are getting older and are maybe a little less "touchy-feely" but don't let that stop you. Never let your child leave your home without some type of physical interaction. Hold on for a few seconds longer each morning. Tell your child that you love them. A hand on the shoulder, a high-five, a kiss and smile - whatever works for you and your child. Make that important contact. You never know what a day will bring.
Send them out that front door feeling like they can conquer anything. Feed their mind, body and soul each and every morning. Only time will tell just how big of an impact that you can truly make just by making a few small changes before the bus comes.
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