Interview with a psychologist. How to teach Your child to wake up with pleasure
“Every day brings something new. We were born to meet this life with joy”
Waking up happy and content is an art. And everyone can master it. Olha Volcheliuk, practical psychologist in Creative International School for Children, Kyiv, gives her guidance: how to make morning wakening pleasant, how to organize morning activities and the preparation to night sleep, and what can stimulate a child’s good morning mood.
1. For some children waking up in the morning is a very unpleasant process that might end with a tantrum or tears. Please name the main reasons why for some children waking up = hard challenge.
One of the reasons of a tough wakening is the fact that the child doesn’t have enough sleep. The parents have to understand how much sleep their child requires, since everyone has his/her own biorhythm. You need to watch carefully what your child does during the day, what is his/her level of activity, and when exactly your child gets tired. And the schedule of studies and games must be adjusted to these rhythms. The sleep must take as much time as the child needs to feel healthy and vigorous in the morning.
The next factor is the season of the year. The scientists came to the conclusion that in summer a human sleeps for an hour less than in winter, and this must be taken into consideration. In winter the dark period of the day is longer, when our bodies produce less cortisone and melatonin. When it’s dark outside, you are usually reluctant to wake up.
One more reason of a tough awakening is the temperature in the room. If it is too hot or too cold, the sleep might be uncomfortable and the awakening unpleasant.
The ritual of preparation to sleep also affects the morning well-being, activity and mood. It is good for a child to understand that soon it is time for rest. At that moment the child must be well-fed, but overeating before sleep should be avoided. The comfort must be provided for the body to have full rest during the night.
Daily schedule is an esential component when it comes to morning wakening. Ithappens very often that the parents allow finishing watching a movie or playing some game on the phone, and as a result, the child is nervous, annoyed, wants more, but the time is very late. the biorhythms are overthrown, the mood is bad and the sleep is troubled.
2. The morning starts from the evening. Why shouldn’t we underestimate this saying? How can we organize a child’s time before sleep in order for the wakening to be pleasant?
Even a grown-up wakes up more easily with understanding that the things planned for the day before are completed. We meet the new day easily with the feeling of completeness. The preparation, ritualization of the period before sleep or wakening make or lives more comfortable.
For a child, it’s better to organize the evening in such manner that the game activities should decrease towards bedtime. If it’s a movie, watching it must be finished before the allowed time, and not later. The child must know clearly that at 21:00 it’s bedtime, and all things must be finished before that.
For a pleasant going to sleep, you can read a fairy-tale or talk to the child, caress or exchange kind words, dim the lights and sounds, ask the other members of the family not to create noise. This way, the child will understand that it’s really bedtime.
Little children like to play, and the preparation to sleep may be ritualized in the following way: arouse interest to the process of making the bed, maybe there is a cuddly toy waiting, or the favourite pillow is sad without the child. And the child will go to sleep gladly.
You can make a massage before going to sleep using relaxing essential oils, e.g. lavender. Active bathing does not affect the sleep well. It makes the child more active, that’s why a shower will suffice.
Quit and relaxing music is also beneficial for the nervous system. Let’s recall the lullabies our mothers used to sing to us – we surrendered to the soft rhythm which lulled us asleep. You can dim the lights in the room eventually, quietly say something to the child, or read a book.
If going to sleep is peaceful, then the sleep itself will be deep and the wakening pleasant.
3. Gadgets. Some children wake up only to cartoons on tablet PCs or games on smartphones. How does it affect a child?
Gadgets are the most simplified way for getting a child out of bed. But I can’t say a categorical “no” to cartoons in the morning. In case if a child is too reluctant to get out of bed in the morning, you can turn on a favourite cartoon. And if there are songs, music – you can wake up to that drive, dancing and singing in tune. It’s just one of the ways to wake up, but not the only one.
Of course, the children love when parents help them wake up. When the door to the room opens lightly, and the lights are on in the hallway or in the other room, the family members are getting prepared for their daily business, and you can feel the magnificent aroma of mommy’s pancakes. And now mommy comes into the room, kisses and says she missed you and how wonderful it is that you woke up already, and now come see what I cooked for you, and how lovely it is outside, let’s look through the window… No gadget will ever replace such moments. But if on some days it’s easier for the child to wake up with a cartoon, there’s nothing bad in it. It’s important not to make gadgets a habit, though.
As concerns gadgets in the evening. Sometimes the children roam the social networks or other informational resources in the evening. And through a visual data even more information comes to the brain, it turns on and becomes active and working. That’s why when a child falls asleep, the brain starts processing the information. A misbalance occurs, and the child may sleep nervously, even wake up during the night, and as a result we have bad mood and annoyance.
4. Sometimes there are moments when the children don’t even notice that it’s late because they are so eager to play a little bit more. How can we help a child understand that a good night’s sleep is the basis for good health?
Family system plays an important part in this matter. The children learn through observation. A child must see that the parents take care of their own schedule, of their good night’s sleep and good mood in the morning, and that all these things are important for them. Only then the child will embrace such example, and that is what we call family culture.
The whole family can make exceptions on Friday – for example, go to bed an hour later. Thus the child will understand that during the school week he/she (just like mom and dad) lives in a certain regime, and during the weekend the family will have some fun plans. It stimulates and helps the child to wake up on weekdays with agitation and expectation of family events. And it also helps a child to feel more grown-up.
5. The process of waking the child up – how must it happen? And in general, what is the right method of waking the child to school?
The parents must set an example of calm wakening and calm, timely going to bed. If you didn’t get enough sleep, the weather is bad, but the parents smile to you, they don’t argue, they don’t scold you, don’t scream, but instead they turn on the music softly in your room – it tunes you into positive mood.
The first thing that wakes up is our ears. We start hearing before we can open our eyes. So, if mommy or daddy comes in, brings something tasty, whisper something pleasant – “we’ve missed you so much, we haven’t seen you for the whole night, did you miss us?” – such moments will be remembered for your whole life. And this way we help the children develop some useful habits. A smile, a kind word, a touch, a hug – they all play an important part. Such moment are priceless, and they comprise our lives.
6. “Five more minutes”. Tell us, please, is it really important to wake up at once and is it harmful to get some more sleep for several minutes?
If you realize that 5, 10 or even 15 minutes will have no positive effect for the child, more decisive actions must be applied.
You must make the child understand that if he/she doesn’t wake up after the third alarm signal, it is the zone of his/her own responsibility since everyone will be late. You must agree beforehand – either you wake up to your own alarm clock, or I will do it, but please, let’s not make it burdensome for me. I will try two times, and then it’s your responsibility zone. Such method is for older children, but even the little ones must be taught eventually, and you must make agreements. You can set the alarm for 10 minutes earlier so that there would be enough time to stretch out in bed, make some excercises or just lie in bed. Not all children can wake up at once. That’s why we have to apply such methods.
7. Now we are awake. What morning rituals must be set to make the morning not just another challenge, but a pleasant moment?
Each family has its own special moments – some children practice yoga with parents, some dance in the morning, some have a pet which has to be taken for a walk. It is very useful to add pleasant traditions to morning rituals.
If the day is going to be challenging for the child – a test or a competition, then it’s iportant to plan the evening activities together. The child will be eager to wake up faster, since so many pleasant things await.
You can set some topic for discussion in the morning, and the child will hurry home to hear mommy or daddy finish the interesting story. Or you can set an agreement in the morning: we must count 10 birds on the way to school. The children find great interest in everything, and we must learn to use it. The communication between children and parents is really important.
8. What is the guarantee for the child’s morning vigour and good mood?
Every day brings something new. We were born to meet this life with joy. The main guarantee for the morning vigour is love. And if we add some optimism, kind words, smiles, hugs – what can be better?And that is the example the parents must set for their children, and the results will follow soon.