Out of necessity, most parents are focused on meeting a child’s physical needs in the morning; making sure they eat a good breakfast, find their book bag or even get their shoes is no mean feat! But what if we can prepare our kids for the day mentally and emotionally, too? asks Rebecca Louick

With a little planning, it is possible to create a radically different kind of morning. One that encompasses your child’s physical AND emotional needs and provides a happy, peaceful start. Practicing these 5 effective strategies will help your family to not only have a better morning but also develop and strengthen a growth mindset

1. Reconnect - According to Child Development and Behaviour Specialist, Betsy Brown Braun, night represents separation for children. Says Braun, “I look at morning as the oasis after the drought.” Small wonder kids want to play and interact with us as we try desperately (and with increasing frustration) to tick through our own agenda. 

Some simple ideas for reconnecting:

  • Spend 5 minutes snuggling
  • Hold hands while walking downstairs
  • Share a few deep breaths together
  • Choose a card from a yoga deck and do a pose or two

Kids will be much more willing to listen and follow your morning directives if you’ve connected with them first. Time spent re-establishing your bond after a long night can make the morning run smoothly.

Consider identifying your child’s love language to deepen that connection. If your son appreciates physical touch, snuggling or hugging are ideal morning activities. 

Other children respond to acts of service, so bringing them a drink of water or a bowl of cereal will make them feel loved and appreciated.

2. Create a Routine - When my babies were little, our doctor suggested creating a structured, healthy evening routine to help settle and prepare them for sleep. The same can be done for older children in the morning, to transition from rest to the busy day ahead. 

One way to establish a routine is by making a “launch pad” in your home. Simply choose an area where kids get organised for the day – this might be the entrance way, or kitchen. Anywhere close to the door works well. There, you can create a space housing the visuals and supplies that keep them on track. 

Successful launch pads may include:

  • Hooks or small table for backpacks
  • Cubby holes for organising folders or homework
  • Morning routine checklist
  • Affirmations jar

While all these suggestions can make things run more smoothly, it is the morning routine checklist that provides kids with a higher level of independence and autonomy. 

Instead of relying on YOUR verbal reminders of what needs to happen next, the checklist allows kids to take ownership of their responsibilities and assert some much-needed control.

3. Do Affirmations - To harness the power of positive thinking, use a morning affirmation as part of your family’s schedule. Science has shown speaking positively about ourselves aloud can actually change our brains and even improve the way we see our future unfolding. 

As a parent and proponent of daily affirmations, writer Amy Miller describes the “magic formula” for creating one. To be effective, an affirmation requires three key elements:

LANGUAGE - Begin each phrase with strong, positive words. (Examples: “I am kind. “I am going to rock this day.” “I create happiness for myself”)

VISUALISATION - Spend several moments picturing details of the emotion or situation you’re affirming. This step connects your words to the positive feelings surrounding them.

IMPLEMENTATION - Believe in your statement. If the affirmation feels false, know the more you practice, the more real it becomes.

Affirmations provide the opportunity to strengthen a growth mindset, especially during challenging moments. Simply write or copy a few of your family’s favourites and place them in a jar near the launch pad for easy access in the morning!

4. Set the Stage - Consider your home as the staging area for a good day. Many elements can help create a positive tone, from the sounds of calming music to the smell of muffins baking in the oven (even if it’s just a scented candle!). 

Engaging your child’s five senses is a simple and impactful way to create positive associations with the morning routine. Some ideas include:

Touch: hug, snuggle or hold hands
Sight: make eye contact, read affirmations
Sound: play soft instrumental music
Smell: light candles or incense or spray essential oils
Taste: a mindful sip of water, eat healthy breakfast together

5. Practice and Rehearse - As with learning any new behaviour, practice when the pressure is off. Young kids can play out the morning routine on weekends using stuffed animals or finger puppets. 

Older kids can share their perception of morning rituals, as well as what parts are going well and what could be improved. Discuss when (and if) breakdowns occur in order to better plan for the days ahead.

Choose a relaxing time to encourage your child to make a morning goal, one that is meaningful to him or her. Ask, “What would you like to learn how to do in the morning?” 

Possible suggestions:
As you practice the new routine, remember to pause and notice your family’s efforts in overcoming their early morning hurdles. Appreciate your children for their hard work at facing challenges and setbacks. And don’t forget to praise yourself too!

  • Making her own breakfast 
  • Writing or selecting the daily affirmations for the week 
  • Getting himself dressed 
  • Creating a positive playlist 
  • Being the morning leader who gets everyone up and moving 

Rebecca is an assistant professor of Special Education at Eastern Michigan University. She studies motivation among students with learning disabilities. Find her on Twitter @ralouick


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READ Big Life Journal for Tweens and Teens at biglifejournal-uk.co.uk

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