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Will NOT get ready in the morning, at my wits end

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I was in tears this morning, and have been feeling so helpless and sad today because I do not know what more I can do about this. My 8 yo DS absolutely will not get ready in the morning. We have to get up and leave the house every morning to take my younger DS to school. This is an every day routine so it's nothing new. DS1 will not do a single thing to get ready. My requests are pretty basic: get dressed, brush teeth, put shoes and coat on, turn off lights.

Today my younger son had a field trip, and the older one had a class to go to. We had lots of extra time to get ready. Despite filling him in on the plan the night before, when he woke up in the morning, giving 30 min, 15 min, 5 min. warnings and making it clear what tasks were to be done before leaving, he sat dreamily playing with a necklace the entire time and never made a move to get ready. Meanwhile, my 5 yo and I and the baby got ready, loaded the car. 8 yo has done nothing. It's now 10am, time for his class and the trip, which are 30 min. away and we haven't left yet. DS1 is wandering around inside the house, saying he can't find his toothbrush. It's right where it always is in the bathroom. Unfortunately I totally blew up at him and yelled, after so long of frustration with this and nothing working. So he still never did brush his teeth or bring a coat or turn off the lights. He got 20 mins. of his class, and DS2 got 10 mins. of his field trip I'm so frustrated, after staying up late to pack our stuff, and doing so much working ahead to make sure we'd be ready on time and things would go smoothly.

My dh will just do all these things for him if he doesnt respond to a gazillion requests. However I believe an 8 yo should be able to do simple things like dress themselves and I have been trying lately to shift any responsibility onto the kids that they reasonably can do. (we even pick out the clothes and lay them in front of him, and he still can't do it. if we have him get the clothes he will disappear upstairs and never come back), and brush teeth (we even put the toothpaste on the brush and put it in his hand, he'll just put it down and wander off). He is in general very oppositional, and when not, he's in a total dream world and truly does not seem to hear or process anything. Meanwhile my 5 yo has been doing all of this on his own for quite some time.

What are the logical consequences? Right now it's just me being mad, which doesn't seem to change anything for him at all. If I wait for him to do things, he simply won't, which means DS2 will miss half of school which isn't fair to him, plus I'm paying for it, and DS1 will miss his classes which I've paid for so it's a punishment on me (he really doesnt care if he misses things). If we all get ready and wait in the car, he either doesn't notice or flies into a complete rage and the poor baby hates the car seat and it isn't fair to have her sitting there waiting forever.

Sometimes when I think of it I'll have a "sticker day" where if they do everything they need to in a period of time, they get a sticker, and if they get 5 they get a reward. But somehow I don't feel right about rewarding them for doing what they are supposed to do anyway.

HELP
post #2 of 24
I can understand your frustration - you are not asking for much and he is more than old enough for those few responsibilities...

Have you had a "problem solving session" with him about it yet? It seems like he is seeking the attention his dad gives him - or is passive aggressive about this - Does he have any of his own money? Logical/natural consequence might be you pay for the class if he makes it on time but he forks over the fee (or portion there of) if he misses it b/c he is late? I would definitely NOT spring that on him last minute without first bringing up the new consequence as part of a problem solving session - what does he say? 10 am is not early - do you homeschool? (I'm assuming from the schedule/fee for classes) How often have you had to stick to a regular schedule? Maybe putting a getting ready routine in place even on the days you don't go anywhere?

Does he have access to preferred activities throughout the getting ready phase of the morning - if so I would limit access until he is totally ready.... We need to be out the door by 7:45 am - we are up at 6:45 and dd must get dressed/make her bed before we even go down stairs - she is allowed to watch pbs' Arthur while she eats breakfast - when that's done she must brush her teeth and get her socks from upstairs and gather her stuff and head out the door (which takes the full 15 minutes - she gets easily side tracked with more interesting things

I only have the one so I'm not sure how you focus on three at once - I would say he needs to find a reason to be invested in being on time, however you make that happen...
post #3 of 24
I would just tell him, "In the morning we're leaving at x time. However you are you're getting in the car and we're going." Talk about it, give him plenty of warning. In 30 minutes we're leaving, if you're still in your pajamas, you're going in your pajamas. 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. And, then follow through. You can save him and have a set of clothes in the car so he can change when he gets to the class. Or, you can make his pajamas sweats and a t-shirt so it's still appropriate for a class.

8 is way old enough to dress himself. The natural consequence of not getting dressed is you're not dressed!
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonamarq View Post
Does he have access to preferred activities throughout the getting ready phase of the morning - if so I would limit access until he is totally ready.... .
Thanks

yes, he's homeschooled.

I think this is part of it- when he drifts off into playing there is no getting him back. Sometimes it's actually easier to get ready when we only have a short time or have to leave early b/c we just do the basics and there's no time to get out toys, etc. It actually seems harder to corral them when we have more time.

I agree, I have to come up with incentive. No he doesn't have much of his own money except for what we give him for doing extra chores, and that's like a quarter so it wouldn't pay me back for missed classes

I will do a problem solving session to see what he comes up with. But getting him to stick with what we agree on will be an issue.

The funny thing is, just a few days ago he was so proud that he was brushing his teeth on his own and didn't need help any more, and said we don't have to worry, he's taking over that job! So he IS capable!
post #5 of 24
I agree with Xerxella. At that age it's perfectly reasonable to tell him that when it's time to leave, it's time to leave. Period.

I wouldn't even bring a change of clothes to the van. No way. If he wanted to change in the van in the class parking lot, then he would be responsible for bringing them himself.

He would be going to class with his teeth unbrushed and his pajamas on.

After hopefully one lesson like this he'll likely catch on.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
. Despite filling him in on the plan the night before, when he woke up in the morning, giving 30 min, 15 min, 5 min. warnings and making it clear what tasks were to be done before leaving, he sat dreamily playing with a necklace the entire time and never made a move to get ready. Meanwhile, my 5 yo and I and the baby got ready, loaded the car. 8 yo has done nothing. It's now 10am, time for his class and the trip, which are 30 min. away and we haven't left yet. DS1 is wandering around inside the house, saying he can't find his toothbrush. It's right where it always is in the bathroom. Unfortunately I totally blew up at him and yelled, after so long of frustration with this and nothing working. So he still never did brush his teeth or bring a coat or turn off the lights. He got 20 mins. of his class, and DS2 got 10 mins. of his field trip I'm so frustrated, after staying up late to pack our stuff, and doing so much working ahead to make sure we'd be ready on time and things would go smoothly.

My dh will just do all these things for him if he doesnt respond to a gazillion requests. However I believe an 8 yo should be able to do simple things like dress themselves and I have been trying lately to shift any responsibility onto the kids that they reasonably can do. (we even pick out the clothes and lay them in front of him, and he still can't do it. if we have him get the clothes he will disappear upstairs and never come back), and brush teeth (we even put the toothpaste on the brush and put it in his hand, he'll just put it down and wander off). He is in general very oppositional, and when not, he's in a total dream world and truly does not seem to hear or process anything. Meanwhile my 5 yo has been doing all of this on his own for quite some time.

What are the logical consequences? Right now it's just me being mad, which doesn't seem to change anything for him at all. If I wait for him to do things, he simply won't, which means DS2 will miss half of school which isn't fair to him, plus I'm paying for it, and DS1 will miss his classes which I've paid for so it's a punishment on me (he really doesnt care if he misses things). If we all get ready and wait in the car, he either doesn't notice or flies into a complete rage and the poor baby hates the car seat and it isn't fair to have her sitting there waiting forever.

HELP
After re-reading this, I couldn't help but think of ADD. Especially, when you said it seems as if he doesn't hear or process anything.

Have you had him tested? (ADD doesn't automatically mean meds by the way) But, it might help for you to find some ways to deal with his behavior. My brother had ADD (that wasn't disgnosed until adulthood) and I can remember him just staring at his one math problem, which he knew how to do, and not doing it even though as soon as he finished he got to play Atari. It was like he couldn't even focus for the 2 minutes it would've taken to get the reward. He just couldn't do it.

Of course, I may be way off base. I don't know anything about you, but this one post. But, just telling you my thoughts.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
xerxella- no, you're not off base at all. He does have concentration/processing issues, although I don't think it's ADD. we've been trying to figure it out since he was a baby, he's been in therapy since he was a toddler, and that's a big part of why he's homeschooled. So I can making certain accomodations and helping him more than a normal 8 yo, but still, he has to have some responsibility, esp. when if affects the whole family and he CAN physically do it.

He wouldn't care in the least if he went to classes in his pjs or with teeth unbrushed. He wouldn't even notice. Although as he gets older that may change and it may be a motivator. It's me it would affect since I'd have to pay for the dental work and the huge hassle of long dental appts if he gets cavities. He's never had cavities so it's abstract to him. DS2 had some cavities and it's really motivated him to be a great tooth brusher since he never wants to go through that again.
post #8 of 24
How much sleep does he get? At least 9 or 10 hours a night? My 8 yo. ds needs at least that much or he's in no mood to cooperate.
post #9 of 24
My 10yo ds has a list by the stairs (his room is upstairs) of what he has to have done before he's allowed to read/play/etc.

With homeschooling, it has helped us to set a time by which things have to be done, so that I'm not having to yell at them to get ready when we have to go somewhere. Maybe you could come up with a time in the morning by which he has to be dressed with his teeth brushed.
post #10 of 24
DS is younger (4) but if he is carrying on like that in the morning then he loses something fun that afternoon. The first day I did this we returned a DVD we had gotty.en to watch that afternoon because his dawdling in the morning made us late and had eaten into our afternoon time. There was a lot of drama surrounding it (from him) but it made a huge impact and he cooperates now, mostly.
post #11 of 24
On days when you know you have to get somewhere in the morning, can you dress him in his clothes the night before? That would remove one battle. Really, sweats and a tshirt are OK to wear out of the house, and make good pjs! And then I agree -- when it's time to go, he goes. Period. No sense making your 5 year old miss things because he's mooning around.

On a wider note, your post make ADD sound like a real possibility too. Has he ever been evaluated by a developmental pediatrician? Getting a diagnosis may well help you find strategies that work for you. One of the reasons I say this is because things that seem to work for other kids don't seem to be working for him (you've listed a lot of them). That suggests to me that there's something different about how he works, and so you need different strategies.

So yes, an 8 year old should typically be able to do these things, but it's clear that he can't. It's hard not to get frustrated when that happens. Clearly his ability to manage his own time/activities is a bit delayed if he can't do things that his 5 year old brother can. What can you do to meet him where he's at developmentally? For me, it would be doing things with him and keeping him on task. It probably means standing right beside him and keeping him from getting distracted.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
He wouldn't care in the least if he went to classes in his pjs or with teeth unbrushed. He wouldn't even notice. Although as he gets older that may change and it may be a motivator. It's me it would affect since I'd have to pay for the dental work and the huge hassle of long dental appts if he gets cavities. He's never had cavities so it's abstract to him. DS2 had some cavities and it's really motivated him to be a great tooth brusher since he never wants to go through that again.
I wouldn't worry too much about the tooth brushing thing. If he doesn't brush his teeth one morning a week, I don't "think" that would have too much of an impact. But, if your concerned keep the tooth brush in the car with a spit cup. While your driving he can brush his teeth. (With the bonus of there being nothing else to do while sitting strapped into the car.)
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Awaken View Post
I was in tears this morning, and have been feeling so helpless and sad today because I do not know what more I can do about this. My 8 yo DS absolutely will not get ready in the morning. We have to get up and leave the house every morning to take my younger DS to school. This is an every day routine so it's nothing new. DS1 will not do a single thing to get ready. My requests are pretty basic: get dressed, brush teeth, put shoes and coat on, turn off lights.

Today my younger son had a field trip, and the older one had a class to go to. We had lots of extra time to get ready. Despite filling him in on the plan the night before, when he woke up in the morning, giving 30 min, 15 min, 5 min. warnings and making it clear what tasks were to be done before leaving, he sat dreamily playing with a necklace the entire time and never made a move to get ready. Meanwhile, my 5 yo and I and the baby got ready, loaded the car. 8 yo has done nothing. It's now 10am, time for his class and the trip, which are 30 min. away and we haven't left yet. DS1 is wandering around inside the house, saying he can't find his toothbrush. It's right where it always is in the bathroom. Unfortunately I totally blew up at him and yelled, after so long of frustration with this and nothing working. So he still never did brush his teeth or bring a coat or turn off the lights. He got 20 mins. of his class, and DS2 got 10 mins. of his field trip I'm so frustrated, after staying up late to pack our stuff, and doing so much working ahead to make sure we'd be ready on time and things would go smoothly.

My dh will just do all these things for him if he doesnt respond to a gazillion requests. However I believe an 8 yo should be able to do simple things like dress themselves and I have been trying lately to shift any responsibility onto the kids that they reasonably can do. (we even pick out the clothes and lay them in front of him, and he still can't do it. if we have him get the clothes he will disappear upstairs and never come back), and brush teeth (we even put the toothpaste on the brush and put it in his hand, he'll just put it down and wander off). He is in general very oppositional, and when not, he's in a total dream world and truly does not seem to hear or process anything. Meanwhile my 5 yo has been doing all of this on his own for quite some time.

What are the logical consequences? Right now it's just me being mad, which doesn't seem to change anything for him at all. If I wait for him to do things, he simply won't, which means DS2 will miss half of school which isn't fair to him, plus I'm paying for it, and DS1 will miss his classes which I've paid for so it's a punishment on me (he really doesnt care if he misses things). If we all get ready and wait in the car, he either doesn't notice or flies into a complete rage and the poor baby hates the car seat and it isn't fair to have her sitting there waiting forever.

Sometimes when I think of it I'll have a "sticker day" where if they do everything they need to in a period of time, they get a sticker, and if they get 5 they get a reward. But somehow I don't feel right about rewarding them for doing what they are supposed to do anyway.

HELP
If it were me, this is what I would do:


1) I would take him to the bathroom after each meal and watch him as he brushed his teeth (I understand this. DS had a cavity and I wish it would make him brush his teeth but a friend of his has a gold tooth "like a priate" and he is trying to get one too.) I do this with DS and sometimes have to finish the job.

2) If he's not ready, he gets in the car unready. If they don't care, why should we?

3) I would never postpone the fun or paid for activities because someone can't get it together (not even DH...the kids and I have left him behind and told him to catch up in the past because he is so slow getting ready), and pocket money would be donated to me and chores would be done to pay off classes that were costly and unattended.

4) I would probably have a problem solving meeting but I would probably also be pretty manipulative to make what I find to be acceptable solutions feel like his ideas. Sorry, but that's the absolute truth.


Some people are never on time. They do not have the body clock thing. It is infuriating, but it is not a sign of disrespect, so you have to disconnect from the instinct to feel he is doing it on purpose or passive aggressively. I doubt that very highly. I think more likely he just seriously spaces out. Some people are like that. It is enough to make me want to throw something at them. But it's not their fault and if your DS is anything like my DH he WISHES he could be different, but he just doesn't know how and he hates disappointing me, but he just can't be on time. Ever. Never. Evem when he thinks he is on time he is at least 20 minutes late.

I am learning to accept it about him, and more importantly to accept that it is not on purpose (because if I am late, even by a minute, I am trying to be late to either send a message or to fit in with the culture, or to avoid being first, or whatever...it's almost never by accident.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxella View Post
I would just tell him, "In the morning we're leaving at x time. However you are you're getting in the car and we're going." Talk about it, give him plenty of warning. In 30 minutes we're leaving, if you're still in your pajamas, you're going in your pajamas. 20 minutes, 15 minutes, 10 minutes, etc. And, then follow through. You can save him and have a set of clothes in the car so he can change when he gets to the class. Or, you can make his pajamas sweats and a t-shirt so it's still appropriate for a class.

8 is way old enough to dress himself. The natural consequence of not getting dressed is you're not dressed!
Yup!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerxella View Post
I wouldn't worry too much about the tooth brushing thing. If he doesn't brush his teeth one morning a week, I don't "think" that would have too much of an impact. But, if your concerned keep the tooth brush in the car with a spit cup. While your driving he can brush his teeth. (With the bonus of there being nothing else to do while sitting strapped into the car.)
I was gonna say, once in a while is not the end of the world, but I love the car idea. Why not?
post #14 of 24
Why didn't you take the necklace away from him? "You need to get ready to go, give me the necklace, you can have it back in the car, now go get your undies!"

And as someone with ADD, I function better with less time since adrenalin helps me hyper focus. Since your ds doesn't have a real sense of time anyway, figure out when you need everyone to be ready (15 minutes before you leave? 20?) and then 5 minutes before that get his adrenalin pumping with an urgent voice. "WeneedtoleaveASAP, getyourclotheson, where'syourbag? Let's move it!"

And when he's ready in 3 minutes, you can just compliment how fast he got ready and ask if he'd like to have some breakfast or play for a bit since there's extra time now.
post #15 of 24
I agree with the others that ADD / ADHD is a possibility. That does not mean medication, necessarily, it means some therapy but he might enjoy being able to concentrate.

I also agree that regardless, you leave when you need to. "We're going!" The end. If he doesn't brush, too bad for him.

Good luck. I'm dealing with issues with a younger child but nothing compared to this. Kind of reading up to see what I could be facing in a few years...
post #16 of 24
I saw something once...a quick little film someone sent around on Facebook, which made many points. One of them stood out loudly for me. It said something like "our kids live in a world full of distractions: TV, radio, iPods, iPhones, texting, commercials, cartoons, videogames, movies, instant messaging, web surfing, advertisements......and then we criticize them for their inability to concentrate." Now, the little video was talking about school, and how we expect kids to sit still all day in a boring classroom that is ill-suited to their interests or learning style, but I think it's a valid point to take into the larger world. (how many distractions are in his world vs. long periods of quiet or of nature, so he can concentrate and think deeply)

It has been well-documented lately that technology and media change our brains and diminish our ability to concentrate, to pay attention, to think deeply and the like. I bristle when people say "ADD" and "go have him get counseling or therapy". I mean, remember, this is a child. A whole child. The fact that he's not responding to the way we're doing things does not necessarily mean that something is WRONG with him. There's plenty wrong with what we're doing. Not that trying to get him out the door on time is the wrong thing, but maybe the child is sick to death of hearing the same nagging over and over and over and over. I know that my own son tunes me out if I talk too much or repeat myself. Yes, if I don't repeat myself he doesn't hear me the first time or even act the first time, but I am investigating how to be effective without being a parrot (mind you, I am not talking about the OP; I am talking only about my own experience here)

And I'm saying this as the mother of a kid who can be AS frustrating when it's time to get ready and go out! This could be ME writing this post.

I am going to write more in a 2nd post, so it won't be so long….
post #17 of 24
I just recently picked up a book called "How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk." I am reading it eagerly for suggestions in this area. One more point….the "countdown" approach to leaving ("leaving in 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes….)worked better for us when our son was younger. Now he just hears it as nagging and I think it insults his intelligence. He knows darn well he's old enough to tell time and get himself dressed; repeated carping on my part would just be saying to him "I don't trust you to handle this." And that would make him mad and I think invite less cooperation.

But another point, for anyone who is still reading….remember whose problem it is. In other words, when you are trying to get the younger one someplace and the older one won't cooperate, I see it as the younger one has a problem, but he doesn't have the power to solve it, so as the Mom, you have to solve it for him. Now it's yours to solve as YOU see fit. Get it done. If your older son doesn't LIKE your solution, then it's his problem, and then he can solve it. He can solve it by getting ready on time. Watch who owns the problem. That should help. If YOU get mad and yell, then your older son can see that you've got a problem and you can't solve it, and that you are depending on him to solve it for you. That could bring about a variety of reactions: power trip being one of them.

If he's just dreamy and easily distractible, like my son, setting a timer works sometimes. Yesterday I had been telling my son to pick up the heap on the floor of his bedroom….I knew that one way to get it done was to make an activity conditional on it. "We can go on the nature walk after you've spent 5 minutes picking up the stuff on your floor." I set the timer, and my usually-reluctant son just sprang into action. And here is the funny thing. I had said "just give it your best effort for 5 minutes; you don't have to finish it all at once." Well he didn't even hear that, no matter how I reassured him. In his mind, he had to get the WHOLE thing done in 5 minutes so he was flying through the house like a tornado putting stuff away. Finally he was so stressed about the timer I took it out of his room. But by then he was in "work mode" and he was SO PROUD when he got his work all done. In 5 minutes!! :-)

Best of luck.
post #18 of 24
I bought a visual timer (timetimer.com) for my distractible son. It has helped a TON in the mornings. The visual part is the key. With a clock timer, I could say, "I'm setting it for 5 minutes," but he'd get lost in his daydreams and lose track of how long that 5 minutes was. He enjoys making it a game to see if he can finish before the time is up, then he brings it to me and shows me how quickly he did it.

I also posted lists of the required tasks to complete in the morning, and even the steps for brushing his teeth because that is always a task of great debate around here. It's not that he doesn't know the steps, it's just the visual reminder. Those help some. I can say, "Check your list," to try to get him back on track. I usually do still have to check in frequently to make sure he's on track. It varies from morning to morning...but it's a lot better with the timer.
post #19 of 24
I can totally relate. We have the same issues with our son, who is also 8, and does have ADHD. We lay his clothes out the night before, and he is not to come out of his room in the morning until he's dressed. It has just become habit to get out of bed and get dressed. Also, a timer helps out with brushing his teeth, taking a bath, chores, etc.
I want to add there have been times I have sent my son to school without eating breakfast and/or brushing his teeth. Like your son, he didn't seem to care at the time, but it only happened once or twice.
Good Luck!
post #20 of 24
Just an add-on. DH is taking out DS this morning for a "guy" breakfast at the diner, so I can get some work done. DS loves this. But DS was still dragging his feet getting ready! So I said "I am going to set the timer to help you. The timer always seems to help." I set it for 5 minutes and announced "OK, see if you can beat the clock." Not only did he get dressed within 5 minutes, but he (totally of his OWN accord) brushed his teeth too!
:-)
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