Heading back to school and getting into the groove of a morning routine can look different for each child. Here are a few tips to help support your children and make school mornings easier, leading to pleasant mornings and less-frazzled parents.
If you are unsure which of the 4 Natures your child leads with, click here.
The Social Child
Social children are unstructured in the way they move and also in how they complete tasks.
Their brilliant minds are constantly bombarded with new ideas and possibilities which causes them to be easily distracted, and often running late to get out the door in the mornings.
Do you find you have a cranky Social on your hands in the mornings:
The heaviness in structure of the morning routine could be the cause of this.
Lighten things up by having some fun in the morning. A quick game or 5 minutes of rough housing. Add in some variety or something novel, and you will have them bouncing out of bed ready to soak up the possibilities of the day.
Laying the day's clothes out the night before can help get the ball rolling.
Fun and silly notes from Mum or Dad quickly lighten the mood.
Do you find your Social has bounding energy that is overwhelming others?
You may find yourself wanting to tell your Social Child to settle down and stop moving around so much. Remember that high unstructured movement is their natural tendency and asking them to stop in a negative way can result in a shameful feeling of ‘who i am is not lovable’. Send a message of love and worth first, and then explain the needs of the group. For example: “I love how happy and energetic you are in the mornings, but in this space we need to use our bodies and voices quietly”
Remind them of your expectations: It's hard to stick with the program if you don't remember the rules, and Social children have more trouble keeping our expectations in mind. They are easily distracted. So it's helpful to remind them in a way that sends the message, - I’m here to help you stay on track’.
Alternately create an environment that supports their high movement, and trust that as they mature they will develop self regulation for situations that require them to be still. You can talk to them about this and play games to help them practice and develop this skill.
The Strong Child:
Strong Natured Children want to be up and moving forward into their day as soon as physically possible. They are very independent and capable. Older strong natured Children will easily be able to multitask several different things in the morning as they will want to get things done and get moving.
Are you experiencing a reactive, push back feeling of resistance from them in the mornings?
Many parents have different expectations for how the morning should look and what's important to parents may not be important to a Strong Natured Child. Have a discussion about these things and come to a compromise.
Easy breakfast options for these fast paced movers, as having to stop and eat seems very impractical to them.
They will thrive on a quick easy routine. One mother once told me she holds her Son's shirt ready and says "Run into your shirt!" Others have been known to change into the days clothes the night before.
Options for outside activities in the morning once they are ready so that they are keeping moving forward and active whilst they wait for the rest of the family to get ready.
Reward charts work well for Strong Natured Children. Consider a family discussion at the end of each week giving recognition to achievements.
Younger children will respond well to being involved in the morning duties, let them get their hands on things and assist you in getting things done.
The competitive tendencies of a Strong Natured Child will respond to any challenge especially those containing the words “Wanna race?” or “ I bet you can’t…”
The Sensitive Child:
The slow steady Sensitive may require a bit more sleep, and are generally a lot slower to rise and wake up in the mornings. They move through their morning routine with grace, asking questions and gathering details, sticking to the plan at hand. They prefer not to be rushed out the door, replace the phrase ‘hurry up’ with ‘I’m ready when you are’ or ‘How can i help?’
Is your Sensitive Child whiny and/or grizzly in the mornings?
They may like to spend time snuggling in the morning so make time in the routine for this, or create other comfortable moments or spaces during their routine.
Predictability and planning is key for Sensitives. A calendar of events in their room or common area works well, and be sure to follow through on plans.
Talk about the schedule of the day and offer emotional support for any feelings they have about up and coming events. Be careful not to dismiss the details that matter to them, they have many questions and truly believe they need the answers to all of them. You can refer them to other sources to find their answers if their questioning becomes overwhelming.
Sensitive Natures like to be comfortable at all times and this includes their clothing (remove scratchy labels, and loosen tight waist bands)
Touch is important to Sensitives, they like to be held and comforted, or to sit right next to you. This is how they feel comfortable connecting with you and will continue to have this tendency as they grow. Create opportunities in the mornings to do this.
The Structured Child:
Structured Natures need to have total authority over getting themselves ready. Reminding them all the time is seen as an insult to their abilities rather than a helpful gesture. You can ask them how they would like you to support them in getting ready.
They will naturally follow a methodical, structured routine analysing all the details along the way right down to the perfect amount of toothpaste required for the job.
They value timeless and have a high internal standard of how things should be. Allow them to keep a consistent and duplicatable routine, they have a high degree of mental organisation so you can be sure they will keep themselves on track.
Is your structured nature is dragging his feet in the mornings?
Is there an authority figure at school whom he is not feeling respected by? Or a sibling that causes overwhelm?
Is something or someone interrupting his routine, causing him to be unable to complete things in a perfect manner? If there are to be changes make sure you explain these well in advance, give them opportunities for input, and give them time to adjust.
Is there an aspect of his day that he sees no value in? Structured Natured Children only give priority to things they see value in, labeling the undervalued things as ‘stupid’. Help him to see the value in different parts of his day, and how these add up to the big picture, or give him a responsibility that has an air of authority to it.
Feel a negative energy from your Structured child? - Think about whether they are the source of that negative energy, or a reflection of it. Structured children have a reflective quality and they can unconsciously pick up and reflect others people's moods and energies. Time alone in still reflection can help shift this.
Media Applications to support Morning Routines:
Allowance and Chores Bot:
This app helps parents and children keep track of chores to be done and allowance earned. After a bit of parent set up, this app will help kids track their chores, earnings, and spending all in one place. There is a very simple calendar that shows what tasks must be accomplished each day.
The Home Routines App by Flylady is another fantastic tool for children and assisting them to manage chores and routines. You can create lists of jobs that need to be done around the same time, or on the same day. These lists are called Routines. These appear to remind you when you need them, and when you mark each task as complete you get a gold star. The app is universal and is ideal for the whole family. Chores are broken down by days of the week, and each day is then broken down into morning and afternoon chores.
These applications support different children in different ways.
The Social Child who likes novelty is supported to stay on track and has a visual for where he is at.
The Strong Natured child feels good when ticking boxes and earning money or stars would appeal to his entrepreneurial nature.
The Sensitive Child thrives on checklists , documenting details and having a plan to follow.
The Structured Child, with their all-or-nothing tendencies will either love the efficiency of these apps or not see the value and have no interest at all.
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What strategies work for your children? Leave a comment :)
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