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Family Values

It's September. Morning dawns. Child No. 1 wakes chirping, humming, shining his way into the new day — a ray of sunshine. Child No. 2 yawns, stretches, easing her way into wakefulness — a quiet angel. Child No. 3 groans, moans, his mornings are broken — each day starts in pieces; he fights his way to alertness. He is a morning challenge. He may prove "star of the day", but his first hours resemble anything but.

So, what's a parent to do? Besides the highly recommended proper sleep times, stress reduction (i.e. evening prep for morning schedule) and morning checklist, find the best method for waking each child. Some like alarms, others music, natural light or a quiet voice speaking lovingly, a tender caress or holding. Figuring out children's preferences is simple; just ask (under 2 years old is a tad more difficult). It will pay dividends toward a happier morning.

"When you start each day with a grateful heart, light illuminates from within."

Another suggestion for these angst-ridden-risers could be found in research conducted on gratitude. The University of California found correlation between practicing gratitude and enjoying longer sleep, feeling more refreshed upon waking, displaying higher levels of positive emotions, being more alert and alive, finding more joy/pleasure and starting with more optimism/happiness.

This gratitude practice can begin at any age, but children will need guidance. As part of a nighttime routine just prior to sleep, ask your child to name three happenings today they are grateful for (for young ones use the word thankful/happy). Then ask for one positive thing they are looking forward to tomorrow. These can be highly simplistic like hugs, the family dog or mac 'n cheese. They fall asleep thinking about pleasant pieces of life. As you wake them, remind them of the positive thing they are looking forward to today. This helps redirect thoughts, aiding in reducing the morning funk with a happy expectation.

This will not be an overnight cure, but it can reframe thinking and assist a No. 3 child in an easier morning. As children age, recording simple things in a bedside journal proves a long-term healthy practice. This healthy emotional habit actually improves everyone's life. Mom, Dad, give it a whirl!

Elaine Stone, mother of three, lives in Spotsylvania County. Write: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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