Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Sivan 5760 - June 21, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Parenting with Menucha -
A New Series Dealing with Everyday Issues

by Menucha Fuchs

Menucha is the popular author of sixty children's books, eleven of which have already appeared in English, and a new textbook Reader, "Sha'a Shel Menucha", for schools abroad.

THE GOOD MORNING ROUTINE - How to Wake Children Up in the Morning

Morning is a very pressured time for most parents. Those who work outside the house, leap out of bed as soon as they wake up and have a look at the clock. "Time to get up!" they invariably declare to one and all, themselves included. Still, it is obvious that morning has not arrived for those still curled up in their beds, eyes tightly shut, a peaceful expression on their face, some so coiled in the chains of sleep that seemingly an earthquake would not shake them or wake them. The rest is a routine familiar to each household, in its own manner.

The question we face is how to make getting up a more pleasant feature of the day, a less traumatic experience, an easier process, with less tension and pressure.


An obvious solution.

Children do not like to be woken up from a deep slumber. Why, then, should we, their parents, be the boogey-people to perform this unpleasant task? It is much more pleasant to confer this chore upon some`one' who doesn't mind the job, who won't get insulted at the negative reactions. Some `one' like an alarm clock...

The question surfaces again: how can we make sure that the children hear the clock - and heed its message?

To achieve this, we must connect the children to the clock, to talk to each child at a time when he is relaxed, and to arrive, together with the child, at the conclusion of a specific cut-off period for sleeping, a time-on-the-clock that will allow him sufficient leeway to organize and execute all of his necessary preparations and get to school on time.

Children who are alert and vigorous can be allowed some extra sleeping time if they prove themselves capable of achieving the goal. Children who are slower in organizing themselves should choose their own realistic time-to-rise. But the very fact that they are included in the decision, and set their own schedule, should be an excellent incentive, especially since they will be required to set the alarm clock themselves to the hour they have determined. This will have made it into a project which they control and have an interest in fulfilling.

In time, the child will become accustomed to getting up on time, and he will no longer need the alarm clock. His own biological clock will tell him when to get up - so long as the parents continue to relegate this responsibility to the child, and not usurp it themselves!


In order to have the children wake up to a serene atmosphere each morning and not a tense, hectic scene filled with outbursts of anger and frustration, it is worthwhile for parents to preempt the situation by getting up twenty minutes earlier than their children. A parent who rises in the quiet of the morn, before the household is in a tizzy, can perform through choice and not through pressure.

It's a fact; most children don't like to wake up in the morning to find their parent yawning, in nightdress, rushing them to get dressed. Getting up is much more congenial in an atmosphere of organization, where the house and its daily activities are already moving smoothly along.

If the parent wakes up before the children, s/he can get dressed in a relaxed manner and prepare himself for leaving the house, or for the morning's work ahead in the home, as the case may be. Window shutters can be raised, windows opened for airing the rooms, a tape with gentle, muted music can be played. Children can then be woken with a soft caress and their name tenderly uttered. The moment of awakening is a crucial one. A child who opens his eyes to a mother smiling down at him, a tender caress and music in the background, will be eager to join the fun. He will get out of bed on the right side, and the rest of the day will follow suit.

When we do our best to neutralize the pressures and leave enough time to wake up the children in a leisurely, stressless way, we have solved the getting-up problem.


Most children don't like to jump out of bed right away, at least not when they reach school age. This reluctance is even more pronounced in wintertime. They prefer by far to cuddle under the warm covers - and pretend to sleep. Actually, neither do adults exult when they wake up in their warm beds in the morning, only to find that it is already late and they must rush their kishkes out. It is much more pleasant to wake up slowly and luxuriate a bit, stretch a bit, and then get up calmly.

That's why it is a good idea to wake children up a little before the time they must get started. To give them a few more minutes to enjoy the warmth of their beds, to think a little, and not feel the pressure of activity right away. Let them get dressed at their pace (just make sure it is paced!), daydream a bit, interact with their siblings, but in a muted, and not pressured, manner.

Discuss the length of this extra time with the children. At what time do they want to wake up - and how much time do they feel they would like to snuggle up some more under the covers before actually getting up. How much time do they feel is necessary to get organized to leave. From an early age onwards, children enjoy looking at the hands of the clock and watching its progress. The big hand tells them how much longer they can still stay in bed before they must get going. How much time do they still have? A wall clock will keep the time measured and not pressured.


Children love rewards and prizes, but if we accustom them to receive a prize for every act, they will never become responsible for their own actions and will not learn to do things because this is what is expected of them.

Natural or consequential rewards are different. These are rewards that result automatically, through cause and effect, from doing the right thing at the right time. For example, a child who remembers to take along a sweater on a cold day will be more comfortable throughout the day. A child who puts his belongings in their proper place will find them there when he is looking for them. These are habits or acts which are their own reward. Similarly, a child who gets up on time will have enough time to accomplish what must be done, whereas the child who is rushed will often miss out on important things. We as parents must encourage the child and remind him of the natural benefits, the good consequences he will gain if he gets up on time. Behavior that is its own reward.

Parents can create a `happy time'. They can announce each morning that seven-thirty, for example, is cocoa-time. Whoever is ready on time will get their cocoa hot and get their pick of cookies or cake [in Israel, the real breakfast - a sandwich and fruit - is eaten at the ten o'clock recess]; if they are late, it will be cold etc. Children will rush to make this deadline, while going through all the necessary steps beforehand in order to get the reward, the incentive. Each household can establish its own reward at its own cutoff time. Habit will take over and the child will go through the necessary steps even when the reward is not always forthcoming.


* At bedtime each night, talk with the child about: What is the first sentence you would like me to say to you when you wake up in the morning? Monitor yourself and see if you're on line! Or, your child will do it for you!

* Make a wake-up chain, with the older child waking up the one next in line. This responsibility will keep them on their toes, will give them the necessary incentive to get up. Make sure they do it gently, not harshly.

* Be warm and loving to the child who gets up on time, but don't scold those who are late risers. And - don't draw comparisons between them!


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