It’s Never Too Late to Work Toward Less Stressful School Mornings!

It’s Never Too Late to Work Toward Less Stressful School Mornings!

Whether you’re juggling more than is possible, trying to get your child to get dressed, or frustrated that breakfast ends up being eaten in the car, getting children out the door and to school can seem like climbing a mountain every single day.

Here are some ideas for making the morning routine a little less stressful.

  1. What can be done the night before? Making lunches, taking showers, organizing backpacks, and laying out clothes can all help you get a head start. Let your child help plan and problem solve with you what needs to get done in the morning.
    • For younger kids: notice when child is successful, then praise them for those successes. It’s also helpful to break tasks down into very small steps and then note how well the child is trying to comply or do things independently.
    • Those with older kids can help them develop an organizational plan—a list they can check back on to make sure each step is completed
  2. Temper expectations
    It’s a good idea for parents to prioritize the essential steps—what MUST get done—vs. the “icing on the cake” steps, at least at first. Brushing teeth and making a lunch may be more important than making the bed or putting away toys.
  3. Use audio or visual prompts to help your child stay on task in the morning. This can be a schedule board on the refrigerator or a reminder alarm scheduled on a phone or smart speaker.
  4. Create incentivesshort term, involving some kind of immediate treat or, longer term with earned privileges to be enjoyed later in the day or week.
  5. Stay calm—your child will likely mirror your temperament. Try to deescalate the situation by:
    • Speaking in a calm tone
    • Being clear about expectations
    • Continuing to praise even small efforts rather than focusing on what the child might not be doing
    • Focusing on the next step in the process
    • Keeping one’s eye on the prize, both in the short and long term

Adapted from “School Mornings Without the Stress” by Beth Arky from The Child Mind Institute

By: Carrie Johnson, CCC-SLP
Carrie is a Speech Therapist at Valley’s Children’s Therapy Clinic

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office