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Morning Routines: Teens Are Hands Off

by YPI Editors | September 29th, 2016 | Seasonal, Teens
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teen-waking-upOk, the title of this article may not be 100% accurate. Young teens may need some guidance in their morning routines, especially when they start high school and have to learn new times for their routine. However, your goal should be for morning routines to become completely teen-owned.

As you read in Tuesday’s article, even tweens should be responsible for their morning schedule. Obviously teens need to do this also. And hopefully if you’ve been increasing your child’s amount of responsibility, high school mornings should be organized. Your teen will know it’s expected that she’s ready on time, has everything she needs, and all of this is dependent on her making it happen.

However, there is one glitch with many teens and morning routines. Almost every high school I know has a start time that is earlier than every school in the district.* It also is well documented that most teens have a sleep cycle that includes falling asleep later and waking up later. This sleep cycle and early school times don’t meld well. What’s one to do? Unless you can get your district to change times, you’ll need to help your teen figure this out.

The Teen Who Needs a Lot of Sleep– My daughter needed about 8 hours of sleep at night. Thankfully she was aware of that and strove to have her homework done as early as possible so that she could be in bed about 10:00 pm. She also learned to take advantage of free time during school to get assignments completed on days when she knew that games or practices would consume most of her afternoon and evening.

The Teen Who’s a Night Owl– My son didn’t need as much sleep; he functioned well on 5-6 hours. When he was first in high school, I encouraged a decent bedtime (e.g. 10:00), but as he progressed, had more homework, and showed that he was always up on time, I let him figure out his schedule. I also realized that his late night didn’t have to be my late night and went to bed when was best for me although he was up doing homework.

The Teen Who’s a Night Owl and Needs a Lot of Sleep– Encourage your teen to go to bed as early as she can, which may be tricky. Teach her strategies to make her morning routine as short as possible, so she can get a few more minutes of sleep. If possible, encourage short (30-60 minute) naps in the afternoon, which can be tricky for teens with jobs and/or extra-curricular activities.

The best thing you can do as a parent is help your teen understand the amount of sleep he needs and then plan accordingly. You can’t make him fall asleep, but you can educate him on the effects his sleep (or lack thereof) have.

*Seattle just instituted a new schedule that has the high school day start at 8:45 am, allowing high school students to be more aligned with their sleep patterns. It may be worth discussing this option in your district.

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