My son Austin attends a vocational school for carpentry located 45 minutes away from our house. As a result, his bus picks him up at 6:30 A.M. When he started school last year I suggested he set his alarm clock for 5:30 A.M. as I know he tends to be slow in the morning.. Historically I always had him set an alarm which he would often sleep though and would result in him getting argumentative when I would have wake him up and rush him. Shortly after school started he decided he wanted to wake up at 5:00 A.M. so he could have time to himself in the morning. While I thought this was unrealistic I kept in perspective that this was teaching him how to manage his time independently in the morning.
Austin came up with this multi-sensory approach on his own.
The approach includes:
1. Using an alarm clock that creates artificial sunlight and brightens as it gets closer to the set alarm time.
2. Using an analog alarm clock with bells on top.
3. Using a radio alarm clock so music plays loudly when he’s supposed to wake up.
I’m happy to report that t he has been waking himself up independently for almost two years now. Does he ever forget to set the alarms? Occasionally. On those very rare occasions when I have to wake him up I do wake him up late because I want him to experience the natural consequences of having to rush in the morning.
Waking up independently is an essential life skill to develop before kids graduate from high school. I have worked with quite a few college students who (sadly) had to drop out during their first semester because they were not able to wake up for class on their own. Granted, part of the reason for this was because they could not manage their screen time and would stay up late playing video games which I will talk about in a future newsletter.
If your son is in middle school or older it’s time to teach him to wake up for school independently. Try a multi-sensory approach as my son did and please let me know if you have any useful suggestions to share.
Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the Director of Center for ADHD, Ride the Wave Counseling and Summer Trip Camp. Offices located in Bryn Mawr, PA and Linwood, NJ.