Saturday, September 26, 2015

Parenting Strategies: How to Wake up your Teenage Son

I have a son who is very difficult to wake up for school.  He has been this way all his live-long life, and many of our mornings have looked exactly like this.  I'm not even kidding...

I've tried many strategies over the years and after numerous trials and fails, I have resorted to the one method that seems to work best.


It's the only thing that works at getting him out of bed in the morning, or to do anything really. I have never read about this in any parenting books - and I have read many - but after much personal experience, I feel qualified to endorse this as an acceptable parenting strategy.  Oh sure, you could continue to try things that worked in the pre-teen years, like gently rubbing his back and telling him how he needs to get up, call him honey, and tell him what a wonderful day he's going to have at school.  You can try singing silly songs like "Feet on the Floor", sung to the tune of "Pants on the Ground".  The first time you do this, it's very successful because he will laugh so hard he'll fall right out of bed.  Subsequent times, though, this strategy loses it's potency until eventually all you get is an eye roll.  Get all excited and announce "OH MY GOSH!  THERE ARE MONKEYS IN OUR YARD!  HURRY UP!  RUN!"  This works on daughters too, by the way. You can change up the animals - one day it can be monkeys.  The next giraffes.  They hop right up and say, "WHAT??" and run to the window and then just when they get there you say in a sad voice, "aaawe, you took too long.  You just missed them.  Maybe they'll be back tomorrow? Oh well, time to get ready for school." You can have some cuddle time.  This lets his brain wake up slowly and happily, makes him feel loved and affirms his value as a human being before you send him out into the harsh, harsh world.

All these strategies worked relatively well in his younger years, but now that he's a teen I recommend skipping all that crap and go directly to what really works:  threats.  There are many different types of threats to choose from with varying levels of success, so you just have to experiment until you find what works for your child.  Here are some that I use and generally implement in stages:

  • Cuddle time.  This one packs quite a punch as a threat because the horror and gross out factors are huge.  You can knock and crack his door open a bit to make the offer, then gently close the door and walk away.  Sometimes that is all it takes.
  • If threatening with cuddle time doesn't work, knock on his door a little louder and tell him "if you don't get up right now I will freak on you".  The meaning of this is vague, but if your kids have a crazy mom like mine do, it sometimes induces just enough wonder and fear to work. Say it firmly and directly for optimum effect and shut his door with a little bit of force as you walk away.
  • Tell him if he doesn't get up NOW, you will not give him a ride to school and he'll have to ride the bus.  This only works if his friends are also not riding the bus, so you'll have to get together with other moms on this one.
  • Threaten to whip off your shirt when his friends come over.  This works when all other methods have failed and incidentally it works for just about anything you want him to do or stop doing. Yard needs to be mowed?  He's on it.  Paint the house?  Done.  Disclaimer:  I have never actually followed through on this threat, but just the thought of it is effective enough to work.  
Of course, if you want to abandon the crazy and forego the threats, you can do what I did.  Buy your kid the loudest, baddest alarm clock you can find.  It's called the "Sonic Bomb".  It's 113 decibels loud,  has red flashing lights, and a disc that you put between the mattresses that violently shakes his bed.  So far it's working.  He's developing a facial tic and a seizure disorder, but it's waking him up for school and that was my goal.  He can work it out with his therapist later.  

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