My 4-year-old is like I am: she hates to wake up. I completely empathize with her, and I have horrible memories of screaming battles with my parents waking me up for school. How should I go about waking her up for school in the morning?

It used to be really easy, I'd simply go in the room, turn on the light, and say "good morning". It slowly got more difficult, and is now to the point where she simply covers her head with the blanket and shouts "no thank you!" or "go away".

The first thing I was thinking was that she simply wasn't getting enough sleep. But, like me, enough is never enough. I can easily sleep 13 hours straight and she will too, which unfortunately doesn't work in the real world (yes, I've talked to our Doctor and ruled out medical issues). Even on days when we can get her to go to sleep early, she still is ridiculously difficult to get up in the morning.

Any help the community can provide on effective ways to wake my 4-year-old up in the morning would be awesome.

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    Congratulations on the "no thank you!" She might not like getting up at the moment, but she certainly has learned a few manners.
    – Edwin Buck
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 23:00

6 Answers 6


I was always a morning riser myself, but my daughter and husband are definitely NOT! What I did was to create a morning routine for her in music. The first song is "here comes the sun" by the Beatles and the next is "I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night." The music itself doesn't always wake her, so I'll go in and give her a kiss on the cheek, a soft but firm rub on the back or arm and say, "good morning" if I don't hear any movement a few minutes into the first song. Each song has a task that goes with it.

The first two songs are her "wake up and stretch songs." This gives her a time limit AND time and space to wake up and get herself in a better mood. The Third Song is "Ants in my Pants." By the time it is over she is supposed to be dressed and moving onto getting her hair brushed to Disney's Rapunzel's theme song. At the end of this song, I pause the music, check her hair-brushing job and we have breakfast. After breakfast, I push play again and there are songs for brushing teeth, flossing, etc. It has worked really well for us. I don't have to nag, she knows what she has to do and how long she has to do it AND it keeps her focused.

Just for waking up, a soft, but cheerful song followed by a slightly faster beat song that is also up-beat and maybe a little louder might make a difference all by itself. You don't really need the entire routine, but I find it helps all of us stay in a better mood because I am not chasing her down and refocusing her every 30 seconds.

To learn the routine of course, took a little while, practice, monitoring and patience, but now that she's got it down, I'm SO GLAD I BOTHERED to do it!

I actually did the same thing for her bedtime routine: click here for more I LOVE my ipod and ipod alarm clock dock we put in her room for this purpose.

  • This seems like a great idea, but I'm not entirely sure if it will work for us. For one thing, my daughter can sleep through alarm clocks and music blaring right next to her head (as can I). Also, my wife gets frazzled when there is too much activity combined with music in the household (us rushing around and music blaring can get pretty chaotic). Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 17:50
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    To clarify, I made sure to choose songs that were the right length + extra time. For example, three minutes (instead of the standard two) for teeth brushing. That way it isn't about beating the music and getting it done fast, but is about staying focused. She is supposed to use the ENTIRE three minutes for brushing. Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 0:49
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    My daughter is now in the original play "Cheaper by the Dozen" which I had not been familiar with before this and I had to laugh because the father in the play makes the kids listen to language programs during their morning routine to keep them moving. Commented Jan 14, 2013 at 6:04

You're making getting going in the morning your problem, not your child's.

My children didn't want to get up of a morning, and that led to being late. Then I realised I didn't need them to get up, I needed them ready to leave the house. With that realisation I decided they only needed to be dressed to leave the house, so if they weren't climbing out of bed at the right time I dressed them in bed and returned them under the covers. Over time - weeks - they got up and dressed themselves of their own volition. Perhaps they didn't like my clothing choices?

They're not allowed to eat breakfast if they're not dressed, and we leave the house at leaving time, regardless the completion status of breakfast. Once everyone's finished breakfast, the TV/computer games can go on, because we're operating on free time at that point.

I've also had some luck with luring them out of bed with the sound of their favourite show running on the TV, but that doesn't get them dressed, nor eating breakfast, and turning it off once they're staring gape-jawed at it is... problematic, producing vocal objection.

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    Welcome to the community! I've now read two of your answers and they seem in keeping with community standards! In regard to this one; What about teeth and hair etc? This is probably how I would handle it (except the dressing part) for a teen, if they have to show up at school smelly, improperly dressed and with bed hair that's their own problem, unfortunately, I see a four year old as just being hungry, still cranky and now not developing good habits in regard to hygiene? Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 0:18
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    This seems like a decent approach, although I'm quite certain that I can't dress my daughter while she is asleep (or awake and resisting) without one of us getting injured. But I'll ponder how to modify it to work for us and add in the hygiene component as balanced mama suggests (also, she isn't allowed to watch TV or have free computer time during the week). Commented Nov 17, 2012 at 17:48
  • I think this is a nice response, but not that useful for a 4 year old (TV shows, hygiene, breakfast). There are a couple of more things you, as parent, must be responsible for with a little kid than with a teenager.
    – Ida
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 19:48
  • I like your last sentence(s) :)
    – L.B.
    Commented Apr 24, 2015 at 3:41
  • Josh's procedure is exactly what we have done. Teeth brushing, can be done the evening before, or child can keep a toothbrush at school. Breakfast, one can put some extra food in the lunchbox. Many children eat school breakfast at school, time is allotted for this. Dressing the child in bed -- if the child is asleep or groggy, she will be pretty limp. Just choose clothes that are easy to put on. As Josh said, if she wants a fashion statement, she can get up and do it herself! Good hygiene habits -- that will come. Step one is to develop good habits to get out of the house on time. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 6:17

Being a terrible early riser myself, I've recently begun paying attention to my sleep cycles a bit more. Generally, the hardest part about waking up is when you wake up from a deep sleep. Most adult sleep cycles last somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours. Kids generally have much shorter cycles (possibly only 45 minutes).

One way to wake your daughter at an appropriate time (during the light sleeping part of the cycle) is to have two alarm clocks. The first alarm should be softer, and play something not terribly jarring (I use When You Dream by the Barenaked Ladies for my personal alarm clock). Typically this will only wake her if she's in a light sleep. If she wakes from this, she should get up then. If she doesn't, you should have another "real" alarm probably ~15 minutes later (for an adult, the recommendation is 30 minutes, but I'm guesstimating a shorter time given shorter sleep cycles). The first alarm should have started to rouse her from a deep sleep if it didn't wake her, so the second should be less jarring. It'll probably take a couple of weeks to really get used to it, but hopefully she'll be more willing to wake up if she feels more refreshed waking from a light sleep.

All that said, even though I feel better when I wake up using this method, I still hate getting up in the morning, and I don't usually feel better until I've either showered or eaten breakfast. Some alternative motivation may be necessary, such as Josh's suggestions regarding his kids' comfort levels when leaving the house in whatever clothes they had chosen for them and possibly without finishing breakfast.


My daughter is 5 and I was letting her hit her own snooze button and turn off her alarm clock, but it got worse, she then started getting in my bed in the morning before school and we overslept together unfortunately. I became more nagging and I hated myself for it. So I changed it all up and tried this approach: her alarm goes off, she turns it off then wakes me. If I DO NOT spring up out of my bed basically and with some sort of motivation or reward or just something little for her to look forward to and it keeps her positive instead of miserable basically.

I would like her to have happy kindergarten memories unlike my childhood!


Tell her the story of the ice cold frozen washcloth, which is so cold that it wanders around in the morning to creep into little girls' beds and get warm. Works wonders, especially if you put it in the freezer for a few minutes first.

  • Oh! how dreadful - ly funny! What an imagination and welcome to the site. Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 1:25
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    Make it a funny story: the washcloth lives at the north pole, hides on a ship to visit relatives in the south. On his way, he sees a nice and cozy bed and decides to take a little nap and warm up. In the future, you won't need to get the washcloth out of the freezer, the story will be enough.
    – x123
    Commented Dec 2, 2012 at 2:13
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    I'm picturing standing in the hallway loudly saying, "Oh, hello, Ms. Washcloth! It's so nice to see you again. My, you do look all icy cold today, it's a good thing you've come South" (and hearing the child leap out of bed, scrambling to get ready...)
    – Acire
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 13:39

I wake my kids up by making my own obnoxious music. That's right... I sing off key and clap my hands saying good morning about 3 times in the song. I tell them to cover their eyes and turn on the light. I get their clothes out and lay them on their bed. Then I tell them to get ready and I want to check their teeth by the time I'm out of the shower. I have their breakfast ready before I wake them up. No problems here any more but when I used to have them, I would ground them from electronics for a week. That got them to moving. I'm firm, consistent and I only threaten them with what I intend to do and follow through when they try to push me. I have little to no problems. My kids are 6 & 7. Best part is, they still love me, respect me and will always take up for me when their Grandma says I'm being too hard on them 😉

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