Which description below best describes your mood in the morning?
• Bubbly and cheerful
• Quiet and easy-going
• Happy and laid-back
• Rushed and snappy
• Moody and somber
• Grouchy and crabby
• Angry and touchy
At one Parents Anonymous meeting, the topic of ‘mornings and kids’ came up. We thought it funny that all of our children had very different waking-up personalities in the morning than how you might find them later on in the day. The children in one family were usually quite different from each sibling as well.
Donna* talked about how sweet her youngest son was and her other son always seemed a little tired. Caroline* said her daughter was usually hard to get up because she studied so much the night before so she would usually be cranky. Annette’s* daughter would pop out of bed eager to pick her clothes and yet still be late for school.
My daughter Chelsey was definitely a morning person; up at 5:00 a.m. and eager to walk the dog, make her own breakfast and be off to school. I dubbed Chelsey “Sunshine” and even had a name ring made for her when she was in high school. Chelsey was every mother’s dream morning child; oh, if only Katie were as easy!
Katie was my don’t-bother-me-till-after-twelve child! Honestly, she was such a grouchy grump to wake up for school that Chelsey and I often had debates over whose turn it was to wake her.
“I’m not waking her up; I woke her up yesterday,” Chelsey would state, “Waking her is like disturbing a lion!”
Bribery usually worked, “How about I make your favorite food for supper tonight?”
Chelsey replied, “Katie snarls and growls and hates me the rest of the day!”
When we did finally wake her, we were often met with flailing arms and flying feet. There were promises to get up, even going as far as describing her school outfit when she was actually still in her pajamas. She was lucky to be in the afternoon class instead of the morning class in her first year of school. Sometime around noon she would be transformed into a sweet and happy child.
The Parents Anonymous group discussion often turned to, “Yeah, so now what do I do with this kid?” Most of the time the answer was right in front of us, you match the morning to the child. It’s always trial-and-error but a few suggestions below:
For the quiet child you can try talking less and using fewer words. Keep the atmosphere quiet; no television or radio unless you turn the volume low.
For the cranky, snappy child, give them space and let them know matter-of-factly what is expected rather than focusing on what to do: “Breakfast is waiting for you when you are dressed.”
For the moody, brooding child, open the blinds just a little and let them know to ask if they need help, then stay within one to two rooms away in case they ask. The dimmer light will let them adjust in their own time. Start earlier if they require more time.
If you have a teenager, they can have input as to what works best for their morning, just as long as they meet the deadlines and get to school on time. Teens naturally function better later in the day but our culture demands the earlier schedule. Assist in any way you can to help make daily school attendance.
There is no specific formula for any child. Consider how they wake up (voice, alarm, light) and the atmosphere that best suits them (music, chatter, quiet). Discuss it with the child and work with them to come up with MUST to meet CAN. They MUST get up, eat breakfast, dress, brush teeth, etc. They CAN have blinds closed/open, TV on/off, volumes of media and voices soft/medium, etc.
Children’s moods and personalities are who they are— you cannot change that. A good day or a bad day and how you help them meet the day can make a big difference in their school career.
*Names have been changed to protect their privacy.
What are your children’s morning personalities like? I’d love to hear from you!