momgrt asks: Hi. I have a 5-year-old son. He is never in favor of getting ready for school. He has to be pushed for everything during the day. Let it be brushing his teeth, drinking milk, bathing, lunch, dinner, anything. Now with playing and watching TV, he is not at all like that. But he is responsible enough to finish his homework. We both (parents) are working and have to leave home at 8 am. My son’s school is at 8.15 am. So every morning is a jam-packed situation, where my son doesn’t want to get out of bed and get ready. What could be the problem? At times I end up screaming and hitting him. But it disturbs me a lot. I am afraid he won’t take me seriously otherwise.
Hi momgrt –
Okay, first things first: Stop hitting him to get him moving. Stop now. It won’t do any good, it will only turn him against you, and (depending on where you live) it could even get you in trouble with the law.
All right. So it’s possible that your son is actually suffering from some emotional disturbance, or some chemical whatever that a doctor could help with. But before you go looking at things like that, it sounds to me like he’s just trying to create some control in his life. You say that he’s doing all his homework, which is great (though why in the world schools feel they need to give five-year-olds homework is beyond the understanding of this mutt!). But he needs to be able to be a kid, and that might be really hard right now.
You’d like him to get up and be responsible, first thing in the morning. But in his bed, it’s warm and pleasant and nothing’s wrong, while the second he gets up, he’s surrounded by people who are hurrying to get ready for work, and telling him to do ten things. And sometimes they’re even yelling and hitting him. I’d stay in bed too!
So here’s my suggestion. Arrange for everyone (not just him, everyone – including both parents) to go to bed a half hour earlier, and get up a half-hour earlier. Plan to have something fun going on every morning. Maybe you play a game before getting ready, or maybe you have a really fun breakfast (if you live near an appropriate place, maybe you could have one day a week be a special eat-out breakfast where your son can order eggs and fruit and pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream and butter and sprinkles and… hey why don’t I do this too?!). Or perhaps he can just watch a bit of a video for twenty minutes. Anything so that he enjoys getting up. And with that, try really hard to make the mornings a pleasant time. Even though everyone’s in a hurry, can you try extra-hard to be loving and supportive of each other?
The other thing that can really help is to prepare as much as possible for the morning, the night before. If he can pick out the clothes he’ll wear, for example, and have his room tidy and his schoolwork all together and ready to go, that will all help.
But at the same time, momgrt, I really want to emphasize to you again… he is five years old. He’s going to make a thousand mistakes, and be confused and scattered, even when he puts all his effort into doing things right. And when he’s unhappy or nervous, he’ll do worse. So lower your expectations a bit. Relax and let him be five. It’s really just about the most fun age kids ever are, so enjoy him now, before you turn around and he’s nine and ignoring you, or fourteen and wearing earbuds at meals, or eighteen and leaving home!
This is not to say that you shouldn’t enforce the rules of the house. But try to have as few rules as possible, so that he’s not spending all his time following or breaking them. And again, do all you can to have this home be a happy and supportive place. And I’ll bet his behavior will improve.
Let me know how it goes!