Inside: 5 Essential positive parenting skills for How to get your kids out the door in the morning without yelling (while also feeling prepared and confident).
Mornings have always been a struggle for our family.
First off, this mom is NOT a ‘morning person’. She is more like an ‘if you breathe too loudly or look in my direction for too long you will feel my wrath’ kind of person when the sun is rising up in the sky.
I’m working on it.
Because of the fact I’m not running on all cylinders in the mornings, getting the kids organized and out the door with positive moods and spirits intact has been a challenge to say the least.
Not to deflect any blame here, but I also attribute some of our morning routine stress to my children’s young brains. Many kids struggle with transitions (aka morning routine) because the area of their brain responsible for executing these tasks is still under major development.
Plus there’s the issue of having them stop something they’re presently enjoying and want to do (playing, sleeping ect) to start doing something they have to do, which usually isn’t exactly a party for any of us.
After years of raised voices, high tension and our mini-van peeling into the school parking lot I decided it was time to do things differently. I was making things harder then they needed to be, and making some changes would be well worth sending everyone to school feeling confident and loved.
I also realized my kids were older now and I was still doing a lot of the things for them in the mornings, which not only served to stress me out but took away valuable opportunities for my kids to develop personal independence, responsibility, and self-care.
It was time for a change, and the truth is, we started with the basics.
Five crucial steps to get out the door in the morning without yelling.
1. Be clear with expectations.
So often we adults assume our kids know most of the things about life…when really they don’t! Honestly, we just can’t remind our kids enough in regards to what expectations are.
Just as we get frazzled with the stresses of life and forget tasks on our to-do lists, our kids need consistent reminders of what they need to do to get out the door in the morning, and how they are expected to do it.
Lay out the morning routine often, and in detail, allowing them to ask questions afterward. S-P-E-L-L it out for them leaving little room for confusion.
2. Prepare ahead.
I’ve heard this a million times, yet this was the first year my family actually got our behinds in gear to do it! This is hands down the best way to stop yelling at kids in the morning. One example that goes a long way to ease morning stress is choosing a week’s worth of outfits on Sunday nights.
We have our kids pick out all 5 outfits in full and put them in awesome DIY organizers made of cereal boxes! The tutorial for them and lots of other phenomenal morning hacks is found in the book, ‘The Super-kids Guide to Conquering Everyday’ (check it out HERE).
We also started having our kids make their own lunches this year and we make them all on Sunday night. I am kicking myself for not starting this years ago! The kids love it and it let’s me off the hook in the mornings, big time!
We do all their lunches on Sunday night and boom- we’re set for the entire week! Anything else you can do the night before, do it.
3. Keep it consistent.
With all the shift and change of the world around them, children thrive with consistency. When it comes to giving our child a leg up on successful mornings, keeping expectations the same each day makes it easier for them to manage their time and space.
When they have a predictable routine and expectations they are able to internalize the flow of things and utilize less energy completing the tasks. Their neurons get used to traveling the same path allowing them to utilize the brain’s amazing ability to go on ‘autopilot’.
4.Connection before Control
Every morning I throw on my knee-socks and run up and down the stairs at 5 am while listening to the ‘Rocky’ theme song and throwing back shots of espresso. Well, not exactly, but most parents can attest to the fact that in the mornings we are in ‘go-mode’.
The overwhelming mental to-do list for the day surges through our minds leading us to easily fall into the role of ‘drill sergeant’ with our child. I think we can all agree that nobody wants to wake up this way and that instead, starting the day with a mindful moment of connection is much more likely to get things moving in the right direction.
Parents often don’t realize that night time is a long period of separation for a child from their parent (yes your child’s negative behaviors at bedtime may stem from separation anxiety), so taking even a few minutes to lay with them, or sit beside them at breakfast and be present with them gives them the re-connection they need to move forward and accept direction throughout the morning.
As a child therapist, the first thing I tell parents with kids who struggle with transitions and following a routine is to use visuals!
Visuals make information concrete for kids, making it easier for them to process (comprehend and commit to memory), compared to auditory input (ie you nagging them).
Your child is still building their executive functioning muscles (working memory, motor planning, and organization ect) and visuals will help automate things for them.
Another resource that falls under the category of visuals is a visual timer. We just got this one for the bathroom and kitchen counter, and being able to see the time physically going down is extremely helpful for the kids to be accountable for their own time.
A little effort is well worth getting out the door in the morning without yelling.
I could be shooting myself in the foot here, but as of now, mornings are going WAY better around our household. Turns out, my kids really enjoy not being nagged all morning long and having me approach them warmly without immediately trying to control and manage them.
They do still need prompting at times, but I’m confident that as they grow and we make these practices habit they’ll require less follow up from their dad and I (which translates to more coffee time, people).
On top of teaching self-sufficiency, the best part of the new morning habits is sending the kids to school on a positive note, feeling confident I’ve sent them off connected and prepared, in hopes of giving them the best possible start to their day.