source: | 2000 Games, Devotions, Themes, Ideas and more for Youth Work
only for private using

Help, my child does not get out of bed

In millions of households' early morning rituals are performed daily not only in Germany. “Time to get up” - the typical sound emanating from the bathroom and kitchen. There is movement everywhere. Everywhere? Not quite; absolutely nothing can be heard from the kids' room.

However, they should have been dressed long ago or at least in the bathroom. Mum makes the first attempt to wake them up, knowing full well that this is only the prelude to another morning ritual. - The tedious procedure of getting Junior out of bed every day. And it can get worse.

my child does not get out of bed, picture: 1159279
my child does not get out of bed | ©: Wokandapix from Pixabay

The child dawdles in getting up, getting dressed, brushing teeth, sits on the toilet for half an hour. The stress in the morning drives many parents crazy, and they are helpless in the face of such situations.

What more can be done than admonishing every day and ensuring that the child's lateness does not have detrimental effects? As a parent, how long do you have to go through this and endure it until the child, or teenager, can get up independently and on their own? However, instead of wasting a good portion of your morning energy and still nerves on getting your child to move, it is worth getting to the bottom of the causes of the daily drama of getting up.

Why does the child not get out of bed?

  • Too late to bed

    The simplest explanation is, of course, that the child simply goes to bed too late. There are several reasons for this, which are depending on the age of the child. As a rule, however, the child's age does not change the type of late riser. The eight-year-old is still a late riser four years later, as a twelve-year-old. However, their leisure time behavior has unquestionably changed during these four years. Long sleepers often have a problem falling asleep in time. So, they stay up late doing something until they are tired enough to fall asleep sometime in the morning.

  • Always online - always-on social media

    Lying in bed does not mean sleeping, and today, that is even less the case than ever. Just about every child's and teenager's room is filled with beeping, flashing, glowing and promising devices. Today, it is almost expected that children as young as eight or nine years have their own smartphones on the bedside table. It gets even worse. They also can turn on the flat screen with the remote control and that all while lying in bed.

    A quick chat on Facebook with a classmate, a video on YouTube, a selfie on Instagram, and maybe then some sleep. In the past, it was the teddy bear in the arm; today, it is the smartphone. I had described the influence of social media on the psyche in another article. In the "Status of Mind" study, it is mentioned that children and young people often wake up at night to check their messages on various social media platforms. Social media thus have an impact on sleep. Generally, it is not only that the kids get less sleep, but they are also not sleeping well either. However, it has other negative consequences for the psyche. Even you can change such a situation, it is better not even let it start in the first place.

  • Owl or lark? - all scientifically researched

    oversleep | ©: truthseeker08 from Pixabay

    Studies about late risers and early risers, symbolically referred to as owls or larks, keep coming out of science and research. Sometimes these studies are also linked to recommendations, for example, to move the start of school to a later time. An overview of the scientific studies published so far on this topic shows one thing clearly, namely that nothing is clear at all.

    For really every study, there is a corresponding counter-study. In one study, late risers are more intelligent; the other time, early risers. Success, happiness, and even life expectancies are measured by whether someone sleeps late or jumps out of bed with the birds. Moving the start of school from eight o'clock in the morning to nine o'clock or maybe even ten o'clock to not disturb the biological clock of late risers is a controversial matter. Since school and teaching are a state matter, the states also decide differently on when school starts. It is common for the first lesson to begin at eight o'clock. However, it is also possible to start earlier, for example, at 7:30 am in Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt. Only in Baden-Württemberg and Hamburg can schools decide for themselves when classes begin. However, even in these two states, very few schools start at nine o'clock.

    At least, a look across the borders shows that the late start of classes is apparently not a problem in other EU countries. In Great Britain, Spain, France, Finland, and Italy, nine o'clock is the rule. In Holland and Denmark, classes start at 8:20. Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, and Austria, on the other hand, start at 8 am, as in Germany. Only in Switzerland and Poland do classes start even earlier, at 7:30.

    School start times, of no significance for PISA

    As shown above, the start of school in the morning varies in Europe between 7:30 am, and 9 am. Remarkable, in none of those countries, students have a clear advantage or disadvantage based on when school starts. Finland does very well in the PISA study with its 9 am start. In contrast, Estonia does even better at 8 am. This shows that the start of school plays a rather subordinate role.

    However, postponing the start of lessons becomes problematic in terms of the organization of parents' daily lives. It does not matter whether it is 8 o'clock or 9 o'clock. Typically, the usual start of classes represents a morning orientation point to which other appointments are linked. If a change is made, the other appointments must change as well. This triggers a chain reaction that has considerable repercussions. The school bus schedule must be adjusted. Childcare needs to be rearranged. Many parents still bring their children to school before work, which must be adjusted, if possible. These are just a few examples of what a change in school start times would entail in terms of changeovers, without the slightest evidence of a clear advantage. Only the late risers among the students would benefit, but only in terms of their convenience.

  • Hotel Mama and Mama-Taxi from childhood onwards

    Dilly-dallying has clear advantages for the kids: the school lunch is made, and Mama-Taxis are ready. It could not be more convenient.

    It is usual for children to try to push their limits. This is part of forming a personality. It is just as normal for parents to point out the boundaries. But when it comes to the agonizingly slow process of getting out of bed, many parents fall into a clever trap set up by their children. They learn quickly that some unloved morning tasks can easily be passed on to the parents.

    If you dawdle when you get up, you do not have to worry about almost anything except washing, brushing your teeth, and getting dressed. The lunch is ready, the school bag contains all the books and exercise books needed that day, and breakfast is served at the kiosk near the school. The car is already waiting with the engine running in front of the door, just like the rushed parent who is already impatiently looking at the clock. This is, for children, a foolproof method that not getting up pays. The parents' nagging is easy to bear because there is usually the certainty that laziness in the morning will not be followed by sanctions. However, this can be a severe lack of education. The parents are solely to blame. However, this can be changed, the sooner, the better.

Tips & recommendations - try something different

  • Self-organization - designed for life

    Doing homework and packing school bags in the evening prevents double stress in the morning.

    Teaching your child to organize themselves not only helps them get a better start in the morning. It simply makes life easier. Part of this self-organization is preparing for the upcoming school day the day before, rather than rushing to do it in the last few minutes before driving to school.

    This includes first completing homework assigned by the teacher as early as possible in the afternoon. After that, the school bag is packed with what is necessary for the next day, not more. Explain to the child, who usually does not feel much like doing homework after the stress of school and likes to put off doing it, that doing it this way, will give him the rest of the day off.

    Excuses to put it off until later will abound, especially in the early days. Still, it is worthwhile for both the parents and the child to insist on doing homework right away.

  • Sleep hygiene ensures calmness in bed

    Avoid going to bed too late permanently, avoid long movie nights, if necessary, bedtime rituals help younger children.

    Fixed times

    The fact that late risers do not get out of bed is, as already mentioned because no rest is found the night before. At first, toddlers should be accustomed to fixed times for going to bed. As they grow older, these times can be shifted backward, but at least 8 hours of sleep should remain. If you must get up at 6:30 in the morning, you will be in bed by 10:30 at the latest.

    Turn off smartphones and social media stress

    At this point, the buzzword sleep hygiene comes into play. This term means, among other things, that there are no factors in the room that interfere with sleep. After all, as mentioned above, smartphones interfere mightily with falling asleep. It is not so much the radio waves that are meant if the smartphone is always on reception, but rather the associated restlessness to miss something. Being on reception, still looking at the last message, or waiting for a new message causes stress. And if you look at the display again just before you fall asleep, you are awake again. Just being able to switch off and sleep, that would be it...

    These technological challenges have no place in a child's room, at least not during the night. Parents are not well-advised to believe their children based on promises that the devices will remain switched off until the morning. Such temptations are simply too great. Removing digital toys from the nursery ensures that children do not feel guilty about turning them back on.

    Bedtime rituals

    Toddlers should be taught bedtime rituals early on, which are just as much a part of sleep hygiene. The motto here is: "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Trying to teach a teenager at the age of thirteen or fourteen bedtime rituals is a wasted effort. However, if the same teenager is used to such rituals from an early age, they will practice them all by themselves later.

    What are bedtime rituals?

    It is already derived from the word "ritual," which means a regularly performed action. As a falling asleep ritual, it means that it is always done at the same time, and always the same steps are performed. This can vary, starting, for example, with washing and brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and ultimately perhaps reading a story aloud or playing music to fall asleep to. This anchors itself in the child's long-term memory and profoundly affects the sleep rhythm and its regularity, even in later years. For most adults, falling asleep rituals are among the memories that remain in mind throughout life as beautiful and reassuring moments.

  • Breakfast time and "self-service."

    Eating breakfast together encourages children to get up on time because there might be nothing left on the table if they do not get up.

    Just as there is the somewhat unproven thesis of the owls and the larks, there is the widespread opinion that people are divided into breakfast lovers and breakfast refusers. There are also countless studies on this subject, each with contrary results. In fact, breakfast is related to sleeping habits. Those who stay up late into the night, perhaps eating a chocolate bar at two in the morning, are less likely to enjoy breakfast. However, a child who has slept eight hours or more and whose body has regenerated accordingly now needs new energy and will enjoy breakfast.

    Breakfast is also a good and usually the only opportunity for the whole family to get together before the duties of everyday life call. That is why it is important to make breakfast time a ritual. Every day at the same time and the table is preferably set with what everyone likes for breakfast. At the same time, do not wait for the late riser in the family. If you are late, life will punish you. This lesson quickly bears fruit if care is also taken not to go over to self-service. On the way out of the house or apartment, children quickly grab something from the refrigerator to eat on the way to school. If parents allow this, it quickly becomes an unhealthy habit because the young organism can easily cope with eating the wrong thing under time pressure. However, for later adults, this habit often becomes their undoing in the form of stomach ulcers or gastritis.

  • Teach personal responsibility - better sooner than too late

    Do not stress; send your child to kindergarten in pajamas if need be.

    Sending your child to kindergarten in pajamas, exposing them to ridicule from the other children, is not necessarily meant literally. Instead, it is a matter of many parents showing an exaggerated level of care. If it is a toddler, care and attention are undoubtedly appropriate. But at the latest, at preschool age from about 3 or 4 years, parenting must also be geared towards personal responsibility. This means that many little things children can do themselves if shown a few times. This includes getting up on time when mom says so and getting dressed often works quite well independently, perhaps with a bit of help.

    The parents do not have to be directly present for all morning tasks. On the one hand, this reliefs the parents, and the morning stress level drops considerably. On the other hand, this is the child's introduction to a self-determined life.

  • Trial and error - learning to accept the consequences is part of the process.

    With older kids: As a parent, stay out of it and do not feel responsible for getting the child to school on time. The problem will solve itself.

    The older a child gets, the more difficult it becomes, to show them the right way by setting an example and being supportive. Another way of learning is what is called in science "trial and error." It can also be called the hard school of life. The earlier children receive such lessons, the more cautious or prudent they will act later in life. Moreover, such "controlled" errors are harmless.

    Therefore, if a child refuses to listen to his parents' warnings and hints, he should simply come to school late and bear the consequences himself. This does not mean that the child should be left to their own devices, but they will learn that every action has inevitable consequences, good or bad.

    Punishments or threats do not help but only increase the potential for conflict. Just talk calmly. Sure, the child can dawdle, but then they will simply be late, or in the worst case, will not be able to participate in an excursion or will have to rewrite a class assignment. But mistakes are the best way to learn. The child, the young person, must learn from his mistakes, from his behavior.

    The problem of many parents: you have to learn to endure it and not feel responsible for everything.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution in child-rearing because many influencing factors and the child's individuality do not allow for a standard.

Possible deeper psychological causes of "not wanting to get up early in the morning" or dawdling.

psychological causes of dawdling, picture: 731165
psychological causes of dawdling | ©: Free-Photos from Pixabay

The dawdling, the delay, the not wanting to get up are visible signals or signs that there are possible psychological reasons for the behavior. One or more factors may coincide.

The child does not want to get up because he knows that he will receive increased attention in this way. However, it is challenging to distinguish whether there is a form of depression, fear of abandonment of the child or whether the child simply enjoys the fact that it causes stress to the parents.

Possible reasons to explain the behavior psychologically

  1. Attention & affection

    By his behavior, the child wants to get attention & affection. The cause could be depression, even if the child itself could not name such a thing. But the child feels:

    • Depressed
    • Has no motivation.
    • Is listless,
    • Everything is too much for him.
    • Has a negative attitude towards himself.

    Triggers could be:

    • Loss of caregivers
    • Bullying at school or among friends
    • Loneliness or exclusion
    • Negative experiences and adventures.

    However, this heavy mood should not only show itself in the morning struggle with getting up but should also be obvious during the day at home or at school, even if children (but also adults) can sometimes "cover up" this very well. But there may be "cries for help" here as well.

  2. Fears

    The child has fears (this usually manifests itself psychosomatically with stomach aches, headaches, nausea), which can also lead to a form of mental illness.

    • Fear of school (for example, because of bullying or fear of failure)

    • Fear of parents separating, hence the fear of "leaving home," or fears due to other family reasons.

    Suppose it is existing fears that cause a child to dawdle in the morning. In that case, it is necessary to deal with them longer and more intensively. Typically, however, anxiety in a child is not manifested by just one reaction, such as wanting to stay in bed. Symptoms of illness are often just as much an expression of it. However, many children often do not admit that they are afraid of something; the older they are, the less so.

  3. Learned behavior, defiance, and power struggle

    The behavior is a defiance and power play between parent and child, which is somehow again a learned behavior to get attention & attention. The problem here is not so much on the child's side but on the adult's side and their reactions.

    The parents mean well and drive the child to school just before it is too late. This teaches the child only one thing: Mom will fix it.

    • The parents want to look good in front of the teachers or other parents and do not want to raise "latecomers”.

    • You are stressed yourself and transfer the stress to the children.

    • You have been brought up to be punctual and reliable yourself and have a massive problem when your own child dawdles. The "childhood feelings and fears" surface.

    • One's own fears, problems, insecurities, feelings are unconsciously transferred to the child, meaning the child feels something like this. Or one is stressed oneself and transfers the stress to the children.

    This 3rd variant is perhaps the most reassuring. Because here the problem lies rather in the behavior of the parents, than with the child. The child knows exactly how to control and intrigue the parents. The dawdling and delaying are unlikely to occur here at school. Except, perhaps, when it encounters teachers and classmates who again help. Because the child has already learned this behavior well.

psychological causes not to go out of bed in the morning, picture: 288502
psychological causes not to go out of bed in the morning | ©: Stephanie Hofschlaeger from

And what reactions do the parents show?

Many parents are completely overwhelmed with the behaviors and possible causes described initially and just now. In a nutshell, it can be described like this:

  • Parents feel overwhelmed.

  • Blame themselves for having done everything wrong.

  • Have already been through a lot, are nervous and at the end of the rope.

  • Are afraid of confrontation and quarrels with the child, therefore tend to give in.

  • Cause and long-term effects, as well as a proper diagnosis, parents cannot even objectively recognize and see. Hence the despair of what to do.

In short, the children need:

  • Love
  • Attention
  • Security
  • Support
  • But this does not mean that everything is taken away from the children and the way is paved for them.

... and the parents?

But the parents also need help and a clear view of the context. Because the parents' first reaction will be incomprehension, reproaches towards the "late riser," "junkman," or TV or cell phone bans will be pronounced.


Therefore, one can give only the tip: Observe your child and think about what exactly it could be and get advice from a counseling center. Discuss your fears and feelings and how they are affecting the child. Work out other, or further, causes together. Learn to understand yourself and your child better.

As written above: there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for parenting. Because every person, every child, is an individual. Even this article cannot offer you a satisfactory answer - but perhaps it is helpful for the next step of action.

Other articles which could fit:

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork picture youthwork