Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Academy for Pleasant Mornings

Emerson has generally been a good morning person. She started daily school when she was only three, so for the past 4 years she has woken up before 7 am and been out the door by 7:40. Mornings have generally been cheerful and easy.
This morning was a disappointment. Emerson was terribly grumpy. She became defiant and we were 20 minutes later than usual.
Normally, I would have nagged her and helped her hurry. I would have been tempted to rant about how her behavior is making mommy late for work and mommy needs her job. Luckily, I had a more effective technique. I left her in the house so I wouldn't have to hear her yelling about all of her ugly clothes. I waited in the van.
During our 1.5 mile commute, after she was calm, I told her that after school today we would have an Academy. "Oh, okay" She responded. She had had 2 academies in the past month. One where I trained her how to walk down the stairs without pushing people and one where I trained her how to feed the cat without spilling food everywhere. Those academies were easy compared to what we would face today.
When I choose to enroll a child in an academy I choose a time that is convenient for me and inconvenient for the child. Today that happened to be right after school before dinner when she usually is outside having a blast with friends.
The rules of an academy at our house are that I demonstrate the behavior that I want the child to do and then the child repeats it over and over again until she has 5 successes.
Emerson was excited when I demonstrated the ideal behavior of a pleasant morning. I put my pajamas on and crawled into her bed. Then I cheerfully woke up, changed into day clothes, brushed my teeth, combed my hair and put on my shoes. Finally, I reported to the kitchen.
I explained that she needed to do the same thing five times correctly. Correctly would mean that she would not yell or try to demand assistance. She would not complain about clothes and she would report to the kitchen within 15 minutes. I told her that I would take notes about her behavior while I cooked dinner.
If the photo turns out clear you'll see that she had a great start, finding the role play fun, but then got frustrated with changing clothes and the repetition. Crying for 10 minutes between the first and second attempts wore her out. I confess freely to self-medicating my stress with a cookie from the plate I was taking to a neighbor (sorry Shauna). I feel the academy was a success (because it drained both of us but empowered me). I can say confidently that it was successful even before tomorrow comes because I guarantee she will never want to attend a "Pleasant Morning Academy" again.


  1. You are a genius of epic proportions, Shantelle. I am absolutely stealing this idea. Thank you!!!

  2. Love love this. What a good Mom you are. We need to have "Pleasant Morning Academy" at our home.

  3. what a cool idea, think a two year old could catch on to this?

    1. For Sure! I wish I would have started it at 2 yrs old. It can work for teenagers too! "After you have practiced cleaning off your mess in the kitchen 5 successful times, then you get the car keys back." ;-)