Guess blog by Cloe Matheson
Getting teenagers up and going in the morning is a little like rousing the dead. But it’s not all their fault: there’s a scientific reason why adolescence goes hand-in-hand with an aversion to mornings. Pubertal hormones can seriously mess up the body clock – so don’t begrudge your teenage son or daughter too much for their morning laziness!
Since even science can’t get schools to delay their bells an hour or two, though, it’s necessary to have some tricks up your sleeve for helping your teen kickstart their day. Give the following hacks a try, and you’ll have made a morning person of your young ‘un in no time.
1. Have some music or a podcast at hand
Teens love music and other forms of digital media – and if they know that their parents are cool enough to be on board with the things that they like, they’ll be all the keener to jump out of bed. Get a speaker for the kitchen so that your kids can plug in their devices and sing along during breakfast, or put on an interesting podcast in the car as a before-school tradition. You might even buy your teen an alarm clock which wakes them up with some catchy tunes rather than a blearing “beep” noise.
2. Get them moving
No teen is going to respond positively to the idea of running a lap as soon as they open their eyes, but a little bit of parental encouragement towards implementing a little physical activity into their morning routine is never a bad idea. Chances are that your teen – like the rest of us – dreads the thought of exercise, but finds the act of it incredibly refreshing and worthwhile. Getting active in the morning, in particular, has unbeatable benefits for our bodies and minds. Whether they join a sports group that holds practice in the mornings, or they tag along with you as you go to yoga or spinning class, getting teens moving early is a sure-fire way to set them up well for the day to come.
3. Look for fun, digital learning material
Like just about any other person who owns a smartphone, many teenagers can spend hours browsing social media and news feeds such as Reddit and Facebook. As well as being entertaining, however, YouTube and similar platforms also contain gargantuan amounts of educational content. If you find your teen absent-mindedly playing with their phone during breakfast time, encourage them to check out a short video from a channel such as Vsauce or MinuteEarth for some bite-sized knowledge to chew on during the walk or ride to school.
4. Urge them to get some rays
The kind of naturally-sourced Vitamin D that comes from sunshine is important for all kinds of reasons: at the most basic level, though, it just makes us happy, for some instinctive reason that no amount of research can account for. For teens who feel as if they’re interred in dim classrooms all day, getting even twenty minutes of time outside on a sunny day can enhance their mood significantly. Go out and join them, if there’s no objection, and you can bathe in the golden warmth together.
5. Institute a night-before-school routine
For teenagers, the morning can often seem like a couple of hours’ worth of boring chores, preceding a whole day’s worth of boring classes. What you need to help your teen realize is that the morning and evening are the times they have off – and what’ll make this ring true is removing as many of the perceived “chores” as possible from the morning agenda.If your teen has a uniform, for example, they might lay it out and do any cleaning the night before, so that getting changed in the morning is easy. They might prep their breakfast the night before, too (overnight oats are a favorite in many households). Ticking off these tasks the night before means that can dedicate more time to chilling out and doing something that they really enjoy in the morning, whether that be exercise (as above), reading, or meeting up with their friends before school to have a smoothie.
6. Encourage healthy sleeping habits
Teenagers are growing rapidly – physically and emotionally – and they truly need all the sleep they can get. Getting up early is often a challenge for them, regardless of how long they’ve slept for. However, it’s best to make sure teens get at least 8 hours of sleep; enough to allow their body to rest and recuperate, and their minds to be refreshed enough to tackle the next day’s tasks. If your teen has trouble going to sleep, they could try listening to some soothing, soft music. Some teens also find it easier to nod off when they hear white noise or gentle, natural sounds such as crackling fireplaces, rainfall, thunderstorms, or ocean waves. Your teen could set up a Bluetooth speaker on low volume, connected to a playlist. Most phones come with a timer function that stops playing after a set time – say, 18 minutes – just after your teen has happily drifted off.
7. Deal with stress
Teens very often face seemingly overwhelming studies and homework, peer expectations, challenging work customers, and many other new issues that come with growing up. Add errands and chores to this – and you have a perfect recipe for teens to keep hitting the snooze button. Try not to give advice unless your teen specifically asks you for it, but do mention what problems you are going through, how you are dealing with them, and encourage them to face theirs. Always reassure them that you love and support them, and let them know that you believe in their ability to be smart and strong. When a teen knows they have a supportive family and is confident that they can take on each day, they’ll be more excited to get up and get started.
Author’s note: Check out more of Cloe’s work here.