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How to Get the Kids out the Door in the Morning

How to Get the Kids out the Door in the Morning

    Ask most parents about when their family experiences stress and getting out the door in the morning comes in among the top answers. With the right routine and words, mornings can flow and be one of the happiest times in your family’s day.

    As with any major parenting issue I always look at what routines are set up. Without a solid routine, one that is set up discussed and practiced, most parenting issues cannot be solved.

    Children thrive on routines. They feel comforted by them because they love to know what is coming up next. I liken this to an adult’s feelings of knowing that every April and December there will be a holiday. It’s so comforting to know that each and every year these holidays will be there for us. Can you imagine if one year the holidays constantly changed so that you never knew when your next break would be? Translate that feeling to the way a child feels about their day and I think you’ll understand why routine is so important to them.

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    Routine always gives children a sense of being capable. When they are able to take care of themselves or follow their routine they gain a sense of self-worth. This is a main trait that is needed in order to be resilient. The importance of resiliency is a topic for a whole other article, but it’s worth mentioning here. If we want to raise resilient children we must give them self-worth and the feeling that they are capable and one way to do this is through their routine.

    Getting back to the point at hand, what does a solid morning routine look like? Every family will feel comfortable with their own specialized routine, however in general, here are some actions that need to occur at specific times:

    • Waking up
    • Getting dressed
    • Eating breakfast
    • Brushing Teeth
    • Brushing hair
    • Putting Shoes and Coat on
    • Leaving the House

    Create the time schedule that you think will work best for your family and then share it with your children. If you have children 12 and older then ask for their experiences/suggestions after sharing; they’ll appreciate your respect in asking them. With smaller kids it’s helpful to practice the routine so they get a feel for it. (Like role-play).

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    If you need to use a kitchen timer for certain parts of the routine do so, particularly if you’ve been having difficulties with certain things like dressing. Kids love to beat a clock and appreciate having a clock telling them that time is up rather than their parent’s voice. However, if you haves mall children who are just starting school, skip the timer and see how they do on their own without the timer; the discussing and practicing should be enough.

    One key point to remember when creating your routine is to consider the areas in which your child might struggle. If they have shown that they dawdle while eating breakfast then be sure to have them dress and brush their teeth and hair BEFORE they eat their breakfast. If they tend to dawdle and don’t have time to eat that morning, the natural consequence will be that they’ll be hungry and will rethink their choice the following day. (Be sure to inform their teacher in this instance)

    The last three things that are key to making mornings flow are:

    1) Being organized

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    Be sure to have lunches packed the night before and have backpacks sitting at the exit door ready to receive them in the morning.

    The breakfast option should also be thought through. Could you mix up the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon the night before so all you have to do is dip bread in it for French toast the next morning?

    2) Being calm
    Your mood can change the whole morning. Get a good night’s sleep (in bed by 10pm) and wake up just a bit earlier than the children to allow you to take a few deep breaths or do a quick stretching routine.

    Keep your tone of voice matter-of-fact when you speak to your kids and give lots of smiles and hugs.

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    3) Being consistent

    You must stick to your word if your child makes a choice you wish they wouldn’t have. One or two days of going hungry won’t kill them. Just remember: show no emotion and remain matter-of-fact in your tone – no attitude. If your child senses your emotion or tone, the will respond with a similar type of behavior.

    Finding your own family’s routine and consistently following through on it will help you and your children move through the mornings with ease. Try it. You’ll see and feel the difference!

    Image: a4gpa

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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