Our six-year-old awakens before 6 a.m. each day. I don’t know about you, but that’s early. It’s certainly earlier than my wife and I would like to get up every morning. We’ve done just about everything we can think of to push back his wake-up time to no avail.
What we’ve had to do is come up with a workaround. Like many parents whose children wake up early, here are some ways to ease the burden on the household.
1. Give Them a Plan
Young kids are driven by their impulses. As soon as they open their eyes in the morning, they are often ready to play, watch television, and have fun. However, at that time, there may be others in your house who are still sleeping soundly and you don’t want them awakened. It’s important for your early riser to know what they should do once they wake up. Show them how to turn on the TV and leave it tuned to a kid-friendly channel with the volume at an appropriate volume. You can also station books, magazines, or small toys near their bed so they can play quietly in bed or in their room.
2. Enforce the Rules
Make sure your child knows the rules of the morning — they should not wake up their siblings or parents and there are toys that are off-limits, particularly the extremely noisy ones!
3. Give Them an Alarm Clock
Another option is to put an alarm clock in their room and set it for a reasonable hour. You can tell your child that if they awake before the alarm goes off, they need to stay in their room until it sounds. At that point, it’s okay for them to come out and begin their day.
4. Tell Them They Can Stay in Bed
You can remind your child that just because they wake up early, it does not mean that they have to start their day at that time. Maybe your child could catch another 30 minutes of sleep if they just roll over and try to go back to sleep.
5. Prep the Night Before
There are things that you can do the night before to make early mornings more palatable. For instance, you can make a cup of juice for your child or prepare a morning snack so they’re not waking you up at the crack of dawn to help them. If your child is old enough, you can also teach them to make their own cereal or other simple breakfast.
6. Make Sure Everyone Goes to Bed Early
If this persists and the entire family is waking early, you can try to make sure that everyone in is going to bed early. Everyone’s sleep needs might differ and it’s likely that these early mornings will take a toll on all who are waking up earlier than normal. If you set a bedtime for the kids — and for you — try to stick to it.
7. Offer Rewards
If your child adheres to your suggestions and stays in bed or keeps quiet in the morning, allowing everyone to get their sleep, make sure that you reward them. This is a big deal and you want your child to know that if they follow your instructions, they’ll get rewarded and recognized for it. That will not only please them in the moment, but it will also entice them to continue to behavior. That’s a win-win.