Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Getting hard-to-wake-up teen up in the morning.
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Consistency is the key to waking up teenager in the morning. Yes, we all feel that teens should take the responsibility to wake themselves up. In a perfect world. However, there are teens who would fail at this task; however, once woke up many of these will attend school and succeed. The following routine is designed to eventually help the teen wake up on his own or with a simple alarm.

More powerful than rewards or reinforcements is this: if you have the power to get your teen's behavior where you want it, just do that. If you want them to do the dishes turn off the TV that they are watching and insist that they do it now. If they violate curfew and if you know where they are, go and get them. Likewise, if your teen needs to be out of the house by 6:30 AM, then play loud music or loud annoying sounds at 6:00 AM. Give any other warnings you feel necessary. By 6:15 apply the stimulus. The stimulus should be something that causes your teen to wake up and rise out of bed. You decide what the stimulus should be. You know best what will wake him up.

Be consistent with your plan. Start the music at 6:00 AM. Deliver the stimulus at 6:15. Do not waiver unless you plan to improve. Don't improve it every day, just when it seems needed.

What stimulus will work best? Only you know the answer to that and you may have to try a few things first to see what works best. However, be certain that you have something that will wake up your teen. This may vary from a hand assisting the teen out of bed, ripping off bed clothes, to delivering a small amount of water on his face. If your teen is a very heavy sleeper, you may need to resort to the latter one. No one likes to use water to wake a teen up; however, watching your heavy sleeping teen miss school and fail is not easy to do either.
High Risk Situations: Some teens wake up nasty. They may make threats or use other intimidating behaviors. The fear that generates buys them extra sleep time. Only you can judge the real risk factor. Ask yourself these questions when assessing the risk factors.

1. Has your teen hurt you in the past at any time at all? Have they struck you? Have they thrown things at you? If so, then you are at high risk and you may need to bring in help before you apply an effective stimulus like applying water.
2. Has you teen made specific threats to you about how they plan to hurt you? If so, your situation may be considered high risk and you may need support from professionals or family members before you attempt to wake them up with a stimulus as powerful as water.

Even if your situation is high risk it may be to your benefit to bring in support people and apply water, that is, if all other stimuli have failed or if you judge other stimuli to be pointless. If you bring in support people it is important that a parent applies the water when possible. Even if you can't do it the first time make sure that with support you are soon the person to use the stimuli to wake your child up. Gradually, you should be able to wake up your child by yourself without support people present. If, however, even without help you continue to be to afraid to wake up your teenager, then you have a different situation to consider. At this point, you are afraid of someone who lives in your house. You do not feel safe. Your ability to supervise this teenager is compromised. Perhaps, for safety's sake, there is a better place for your teenager to live.

The following is a standard wake up reminder protocol that a parent can use to guide the morning wake up. If you follow your protocol daily it should help provide consistency.

1. Have a time that you start the first stimulus, usually music or noise from an alarm clock or from some other source. The first stimulus could simply be a verbal warning from a parent. If your teen has a computer in his room you can try this naked alarm for an annoyingly loud alarm clock. It is free. I like the bugle music. You may share this with your teen and ask him which music will wake him up the best. Do this the same time every morning.
2. Go in five, ten, or 15 minutes later (make it the same every morning) and apply the second stimulus. This should be different from the first stimulus. Choose the second stimulus with your teen in mind. What will work? Is it a hand guiding them out of bed? Is it stripping off the bed clothes? Is it applying a bit of water to the face? Keep in mind that teens may wake up angry. If your teen has a history of violence then consult with a counselor or probation officer before you attempt the water and read the High Risk section above. The nice thing about the water is that you usually don't have to keep repeating it because it is the most effective wake-up. Don't use it if you can find another successful method. Apply the second stimulus the same time every morning.
TIP on implementing Step TWO: This is the application of the second stimulus. This is not the time to start a conversation. You are trying to get the teen, even though he may be asleep, to condition himself to wake up to the first stimulus in order to avoid the second stimulus. If you go in to chat at this point, this may interfere with the second application and you may be annoying your teen even more than if you just poured a small glass of water on his face or head. If you go in chatting when it's time to apply the second stimulus then you are conditioning your teen to wake up to the chatting not to the music or whatever you chose to be the first stimulus. We want your teen to eventually be able to wake up to the first stimulus (because on some level he knows the second stimulus is on the way) even when you are not there. Don't get in the way by trying a last ditch effort before applying second stimulus because he learns that he doesn't have to get up until the last ditch effort.
If your teen wakes up but refuses to get dressed and go to school, then this is a different problem. We will consider this in another post. Sometimes however, your teen wishes to lay back down in bed and try to return to blissful sleep. He may find another place in the house in which to sleep. Using more water may make it unlikely that he will choose his own bed as a safe place to continue to sleep. The beautiful thing about the water application is that if it is applied correctly, to the head and face, it is not likely that he will return to sleep. He may still refuse to go to school but at least he will be up and awake. Once awake do not allow him to return to sleeping because he will have his days and nights mixed up, causing this problem to become a vicious cycle.

1. First stimulus is ____________. Time to apply first stimulus ____________.
2. Second stimulus is ___________. Time to apply second stimulus __________.
3. Repeat Second stimulus at _____. Time to Repeat Second stimulus _________.

The repeat of second stimulus may be necessary for a teen who is awake but refuses to get out of bed. It may be necessary for a teen who tries to find another place in the house to sleep.

To read role-play on waking teen up click here.


1 comment:

Running and Meditation said...

Great ideas for getting your child going!


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