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Set your child’s internal alarm clock

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Waking up... on their own

Rousing a sleeping teen is a parenting challenge that spans the ages. Rather than wasting time returning to your teen's room over and over and over again, perhaps an internal alarm clock is the key!

With years of experience under their belts, a lot of adults have perfected their internal alarm clock and have trained themselves to wake up exactly when needed. If you are tired of desperately trying to rouse a sleepy child every morning, maybe it’s time he discovers his own internal alarm.

Wake up sleepy head!

A large majority of us wake up to the painful shrill of the alarm clock blaring on the night side table. While frequently unpleasant, this rude awakening is, more often than not, effective. Parents of teens often play the role of back-up alarm clock to ensure their adolescent sleepy heads get up and get going. But, teens may already be equipped to wake themselves up each morning. "The subconscious mind has the ability to keep track of time even when we're not aware of it," says Tina Tessina, Ph.D., (aka "Dr. Romance") psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage. "If we know how to let the subconscious know what time we want to wake up, it will wake us. This ability is related to what we call the ‘Internal Clock’ that is in operation when we get jet lag, or have trouble adjusting to time changes."

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A valuable tool

Waking up in a timely manner is a skill that is necessary for teenage students and adult professionals alike, so it’s never too early to start perfecting an internal alarm clock. Introduce the concept to your teen and suggest it as a valuable scheduling tool. "Once mastered, it will help you keep on schedule and make life work in an orderly fashion," says Dr. Tessina.

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Rise and shine

So, how do you teach your teen to tap into his internal alarm clock? Practice, practice, practice. "It actually develops by itself over time, if we adhere to a regular schedule," says Dr. Tessina. "People who wake up with an alarm every day for several months begin waking up without the alarm. However, it only develops spontaneously if a regular schedule is kept." Mentally setting the goal of waking up just before or at the same time as an actual alarm will help develop the rising habit over time.

Read about encouraging healthy sleep habits in your teen >>

Meditate to wake

Another way to develop an internal alarm clock is to teach your teen to mentally set the clock before bed. "Help her focus on what time she wants to wake up, develop a mental picture of a clock, showing the time she want to wake up, and concentrate on it before going to sleep," says Dr. Tessina. "With a little practice and consistency, she'll be able to spontaneously wake up within a few moments of the selected time." Verbalizing the goal is often helpful as well. For instance, say, "I will wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning," before hitting the pillow at night.

Read more about parenting teens

Teaching your teens good money habits
Tracking your teen's texts
Teens tantrums: The son edition

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