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The Secret to Magic Mornings? Put the Kids to Work

Imagine a world where getting your kids to school was simpler, easier, and quicker. You wouldn’t have to worry about rushing, punishing, spending a ton of money or arguing anymore. Instead, you would be able to get your kids to school on time. Wouldn’t that be great? More time for mommy and daddy! According to Justin and his wife Kylie, they have achieved just that.

After many years of bribes, rewards, and yelling at their four girls ages 4 through 18, they found something that worked. They found a theory from the University of Rochester psychology professors Edward Deci and Richard Ryan who suggested that for kids (and adults) to be motivated and happy they need three basic psychological needs to be satisfied: relatedness, competence, and autonomy.

The couple satisfied these three needs through calm and kind interactions that gave their kids control. These interactions included the parents teaching their kids to cook, letting their kids prepare school clothing, organize their own lunches, and learn to use cling wrap. When the children learned all of these things, they received a routine that consisted of a checklist and menu to make sure things got done.

This method works through four steps:

  1. The morning begins the night before. Kylie and Justin make sure they make their menus for the morning the night before. The parents make sure they have the food. Clothes are ironed, cleaned and ready for the morning.
  2. Create a morning checklist. A checklist would help to aid a child in their morning duties such as getting dressed, preparing food, etc. If your child can’t read use pictures but if they can read words.
  3. Wake up 10 minutes early. Talk to them about what they are planning to do that day or looking forward to doing. Then let them know that it is time for them to start their day and you are there to help if they need it.
  4. Do as little as possible. Watch as your kid gets ready. They already have all that they need.

When this method doesn’t work. Now and then there will be times where it doesn’t work due to a late night, a lack of preparation the night before, or not having the right foods. But once kids are in route they generally stick with it.

To learn more check out the article from the New York Times.