If any of this sounds familiar to you, read below to see what other parents are doing to get their kids off to a better start in the mornings while downplaying the power plays:
G. W. in Orange County, CA: Reward them. Positive reinforcement for the behavior you want will get the kids' attention. Clue them in beforehand by setting up the rules. Offer things they really like if they don't argue: special cookies in their lunch, an extra quarter for allowance, or a skip in turn of having to do the supper dishes. If one child begins an argument but the other child refuses to respond, the abstainer gets rewarded.
Another idea would be to write their names on a board. Use a clicker, bell, buzzer or other noisemaker to alert the kids it's time to stop the unacceptable behavior. Whomever doesn't respond gets a mark by his or her name. After three marks, the child must give up his or her breakfast time. At the same time, if they are having a good morning, put a plus sign by their name. At the end of the week, reward them with a special treat for how many plus signs they have.
Cindy H. in Cornelius, N.C.: I have found that getting everything done the night before really helps our family. This probably saves a few screams as everything is in order and ready to go.
Tom and Karen H. in Madison, WI: Only one thing works for our family: Routine! If your kids know exactly what to expect with their morning routine, chaos tends to disappear. Everybody gets up at the same time, uses the showers at around the same time, and gets to the breakfast table at about the same time. This routine minimizes morning squabbles and prevents power plays.
From Jodie: Having a routine in the morning is an excellent way to begin each day; however, it doesn't mean everyone has to be "together." Some children just are not morning people and seem to do better with their own space. For example, getting the children up at the same time but having them doing different things in different parts of the house may be a very welcome alternative.
Have the "morning" child rise and eat with one parent while the other child gets ready for the day. After a while, switch around with parent and child. The kids usually like this arrangement because it allows them one-on-one time with each parent. Another plan might be to get up earlier and let them take turns helping with breakfast. They will at least get to make a decision about what they are eating and feel like they are contributing positively to the family's morning.
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