Tactics for getting teenagers out of bed

17 11 2011

photo credit: Alan Cleaver

Remember when they were small? The excitement when they started sleeping through the night?

My children are champion sleepers. They could sleep for Australia. They slept through the night at 4 months (after having been born over a month premature) and had two hour-long naps a day until they started kindergarten and I regretfully had to cease one of the naps. (Oh how I missed my second nap of the day!) Starting school of course meant the end of the other nap as well. As a former shift-worker, I so appreciated that they would sleep.

Now of course we are at the other extreme. They don’t want to go to bed, they don’t want to get up in the morning.

At the school play the other day, this was a featured skit. One son, played the alarm clock. (He is particularly good at making loud annoying noises.) The resolution of the skit was that the teenager’s baby brother in dirty nappy crawled onto his bed and the teenager shot out of bed.

Of course this issue of getting teenagers out of bed is not unique to our family. Here are a few of the options that have been suggested to me. I do not particualrly recommend them – but some of them are particularly imaginative and worth sharing!

1. Alarm clock. Yes, let’s go for the obvious. The average alarm clock takes a teenager on average two night to get accustomed enough to, to sleep through. No matter waht sort of alarm clock, how close to the bed. Some are even able to get up and cross the room to hit the snooze alarm without waking. on the other hand, they are perfectly capable of setting it to go off at other hours, say 2am, or even the middle of the day, to drive everyone else insane.

2. Screaming, shouting, nagging, yelling. Another obvious one. I am very very good at this one. it usually doesn’t work.

3. Bargaining. Not possible if the teenager is deeply asleep, but worth a shot if they are drowsy and you have something really good to bargain with (say, a mobile phone with no credit). Can be expensive though.

4. Removing the bedclothes. Can be effective if it is winter and cold. After a while the teenager starts holding onto their bedclothes a little tighter though.

5. TV / radio. I have one teenager who is psychically attached to the television. Despite being unable to hear the television from his bedroom, if the TV is turned on, he will get up and wander towards it. Something to do with electro-magnetic radiation perhaps? Or just a severe case of TV-addiction?

6. Water pistol. One mother told me that her friend (a friend of a friend, don’t you know!) used to stand in the doorway and once the child hadn’t got out of bed after a certain number of reminders, she would squirt him on the face until he got out of bed. Doesn’t work if the child pulls covers over their face – you just end up with soggy bedclothes that you have to dry.

7. Frozen peas. Yes, here is where it gets interesting apparently “a friend of a friend” used to put a bag of frozen peas in the teenager’s bed. Certainly would wake them with a shock (probably closely followed by a teenage tantrum! And with some justification I feel.

8. And along the same vein, another “friend of a friend” used to freeze marbles (a remarkable feat of lateral thinking) and put them on the teenager’s bed if they did not get out of bed. Apparently unlike the peas, there were a number of them to throw out of the bed, rather than one packet of peas. I presume said parent then also collected (dodged) the marbles and re-froze them.

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