Thursday, October 9, 2008

All About Mornings- Out the Door 101

Children need lots of choices. Giving them choices is like making deposits in their control bank account. A morning full of choices could include choosing what to wear; whether to drink milk or juice with breakfast; what kind of cereal to eat; making their bed before or after breakfast; even whether to wear their coat or carry it.

Having been given many choices, it is certainly okay for a parent to say that some choices belong to them. If you have to be out the door by 7:45 AM to get everyone where they need to be on time then there is nothing wrong with saying, "The car leaves at 7:45" and then being readfy and willing to leave with whoever is in it.

What are the options if the child is not in the car when it leaves?
  • If they are small enough to carry, some parents simply carry them out to the car and allow them to go to school "as is" even in pajamas or to dress in the car using a pre-packed bag of clothes. (The parent has this bag ready on the sly.)
  • If they are a bit older, leave but have a pre-arranged agreement with a neighbor or family member to provide supervision or a ride. Make sure it is with the provision that the child must pay for the ride. Assure the child that the neighbor will accept chores or toys as payment if they don't have money.
  • If they are even older, some parents might just leave and let them figure it out. One teen decided this was a great way to take a day off. The next day he was ready on time but when he asked his mom for a note excusing his absence, he was appalled that she told the truth in the note. He had to serve a Saturday detention for an unexcused absence. The Mom offered empathy for his weekend of boredom but offered no additional comment. It didn't happen again.

So one goal is for the child to be in control of all that they need to do to get themselves up, ready, and out the door on time without causing probems for others. The other goal is to allow them to experience the consequences when they make mistakes while the price tag is small. There self esteem will blossom as they learn to be responsible for their own actions.

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