As the new school begins, start fresh with these tips on easing the morning rush, from parenting consultant Bonnie Harris, author of the forthcoming book "Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You'll Love to Live With":
¢ ID the problem. Get to the cause of the behavior. For example, a slow-as-molasses child doesn't have the morning person biology; a clingy child has trouble making transitions; a distracted child can't focus on more than one thing at a time.
¢ No name-calling. Refrain from telling your child he's pokey, lazy, etc. That blames the child for his character, reinforces those negative behaviors and sets him up to fail.
¢ Start the day with smiles. Instead of yelling or threats to get children out of bed, try using a soft voice and a back rub. Give plenty of hugs and kisses. Exude calmness and happiness.
¢ Make a list. List with your children the challenges they face before school. For example, sharing the bathroom, getting dressed, having breakfast, remembering homework, packing the backpack, remembering lunchboxes and getting to the bus on time.
¢ Make a plan. Tell them you'll help them come up with a plan for dealing with the challenges. For example, the slow mover may need to wake up 15 minutes earlier. The child who is spacey might need to lay out clothes the night before.
¢ Write a contract. Address each challenge from your list with a procedure and consequences everyone agrees to and signs. Post the contract in a common area.