Planning ahead for a quick breakfast keeps the morning routine on track.

How to Deal With Kids That Won't Get Ready in the Morning

by Shelley Frost

The morning rush leaves little time for temper tantrums or stall tactics, but kids often don't understand the urgency in the morning routine. The more your child resists, the greater the frustration you feel, which only compounds the problem and starts your day on a negative note. Managing the morning chaos starts with your prep the night before. Your strategies for getting through the morning to-do list helps your child stay on track. With a little planning, you can get everyone out the door on time.

1 Analyze the morning routine to pinpoint the problems. Does your child not want to wake up? Does she try to play with her toys instead of getting ready? Does she misplace items she needs? Figuring out what's going wrong in the routine helps you make changes that improve the situation.

2 Organize the areas that your child uses in the morning, such as the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and front door area. Add hooks for her bag, coat and other items she needs in the morning. Keeping her morning items organized makes it easier for her to get ready.

3 Prepare as much as possible the night before so you aren't rushing around in the morning. Check your child's bag to ensure all the essentials are packed. Make lunches for the whole family. Choose clothes with your child so you avoid morning battles over what she'll wear. Plan for breakfast so your child can eat quickly.

4 Send your child to bed earlier if she moves slowly in the morning or doesn't want to get out of bed. She may simply need an extra hour or two of sleep. Preschoolers need 11 to 13 hours, while school-age kids need 10 to 11 hours, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

5 Write out a morning checklist for your child so she knows what to do. Use pictures and words to show steps such as brushing teeth, eating breakfast, getting dressed, putting on shoes and gathering bags. The list gives her a visual reminder and may motivate her to keep moving so she can get through everything.

6 Wake up early so you can get yourself ready before your child wakes up. This reduces the feelings of being rushed. Since you are completely ready, you can focus on helping your child move through her morning prep routine.

7 Set restrictions on the type of morning activities your child is allowed to do. If you let her watch TV while she eats breakfast, you'll likely have trouble peeling her away from the show to get dressed. Reward her with a little TV or play time once she finishes all of her morning tasks to motivate her to get ready.

8 Offer verbal reminders if your child is distracted or moving slowly. Say, "Have you finished getting dressed?" if your child starts playing. Give her choices so she has some control. Say, "Do you want to brush your teeth or get dressed first?" This may help reduce nagging or conflict in the morning.

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