Why Teens Need to Wake Up for School on Their Own

Let me start by saying something right off the bat: If waking your teens up every morning for school brings you a feeling of blissful joy, satisfaction, meaning, and in no way feels like a burden, and every morning you’re met with gratefulness on behalf of your sleepy teens, then, by all means, keep doing what works for you and your family. 

If, on the other hand, waking up cranky teenagers Every. Single. Morning is slowly starting to become a battle (or has been one for years), and you’re desperate for your kids to rise on their own but don’t know what to do, read on.

Teens are capable of waking up on their own, and parents need to let them. (Twenty20 @ljbs)

Are you eager for your kids to wake up on their own?

It’s no secret that during adolescence body clocks do a 180, and kids who once cheerfully woke at sunrise now seemingly need to be bulldozed out of bed every day. Unfortunately, at the same time teens start wanting to stay up later at night (and often needing to because of demanding school work), they’re faced with the harsh reality that high school start times are typically much earlier than middle and elementary school.

It’s not uncommon for high school first bells to ring around 7:20 a.m., which means buses and car rides probably start around 6:40ish, meaning our sleepy teens need to be up and at ‘em long before the sun rises. And for those who finally went to sleep after midnight, this is ROUGH.

And thus begins the morning melee that millions of moms and dads are begrudgingly fighting right now, but with a healthy dose of wake up tough love, a working alarm clock, and parents embracing a “let go and let them fail” attitude, mornings no longer have to be a battle of wits and wake-ups.

Yes, teens are, in fact, VERY capable of waking up on their own, but if YOU continue to be their daily wake-up call, why would they bother to learn how to? Megan Devine, LCPC, therapist, and Empowering Parents life coach, says it best,

As long as you take responsibility for getting your child out of bed, they will let you do it.

Megan Devine, LCPC

So what is keeping you from letting your teens wake themselves up, and how can you make it a reality?

Help your teens wake up on their own

1. But my teens sleep through alarms! 

This is the most common excuse I hear from parents when I ask why they’re still waking up their teens, and my reply is always the same — this morning millions of people heard their alarm clock and actually got out of bed and went to work! It’s a behavior that is learned, in much the same way they’ve taught their bodies to not hear or respond to it, they’re going to have to relearn how to hear it. So far they’ve learned and conditioned their bodies to know that ignoring it means you’ll come to wake them!

Options include more than one alarm, one that is placed where they need to get out of bed to turn it off, using a light therapy clock (or sunrise lamp), or using one that has an extra loud setting. Still not working? See #2

2. Teens need a sleep routine. Period.

Sporadic bedtimes and irregular wake-up calls, especially ones that are inconsistent, and end up with parents spending up to 30 minutes each morning nagging semi-comatose teens to wake up, are both recipes for disaster.

Research has told us focusing on good sleep hygiene pays off, and for teens who are in the midst of some of the greatest physical, emotional, and developmental changes our bodies will ever undergo, it’s vital to try to maintain as structured a sleep routine as possible. It will not happen overnight, but when it does happen, you’ll start to see less sleeping through alarm clocks, and more rising on their own. But what if even that doesn’t work? See #3

3. There are consequences to not getting up, and teens need to feel them.

You bought the new alarm clock. You helped them come up with new sleep routine plans and helped problem-solve their sleep issues. But new routines and new gadgets are still not getting your kid out of bed. Now it’s time for some tough love.

When natural consequences begin to happen, like missing the bus, missing carpool, and ultimately missing school without a valid excuse, and continued tardies add up and end up with your teen in detention, or having school work they cannot make up, then, and only then, will this spurn some kids to take charge of their wake up issues. And as soon as teens take full responsibility, all in an effort to avoid consequences they want to avoid, then you will see real change. 

More Great Reading:

Does Your Teen Sleep Until 2PM? Let It Go, Summer Slumber Is Normal

About Melissa Fenton

Melissa Fenton is a freelance writer and adjunct librarian at Pasco-Hernando State College. Find her writing all over the internet, but her work mostly on the dinner table. Find her on Facebook 
and on twitter at @melissarunsaway

Read more posts by Melissa

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