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Animal Behavior

A Morning Routine for Kids

Here's a simple and fun way to help kids start the day off right.

Source: iStock

Most young kids today think their world is made of a combination of their parents, siblings, school, neighborhood, friends, shops, pets, meals, playgrounds, church, and anything else that makes up their unique world.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of showing kids that they also have an inner world.

A world that includes their emotions, feelings, beliefs, ideas, dreams, fears, stories, questions, their breath and body, and their connection to something greater than just themselves.

With my 6-year-old old son, we have created many rituals and routines to help him turn inwards, to be comfortable with his emotions, to remind him of his "inner" superpowers that he has at all times and can take anywhere.

There are so many articles, interviews, and podcasts about morning routines for high performing adults at work, parents, etc. What about a morning routine for kids?

Here is what we do:

  1. We start with cuddles and physical connection when we all wake up. Touch creates safety and a sense of belonging for kids.
  2. Next, one of us chooses the music we will listen to until we get out the door. For my son, "I Love Rock and Roll’ by Joan Jett, is always in first place. For myself, probably Queen. For my husband, if he had the choice, Metallica! So there’s a bit of negotiation first thing in the morning too. Music is such a brilliant state inducer; plus it gets us physically moving our body. One of us usually breaks out in a dance routine.
  3. We then do the practicalities of a healthy breakfast, getting dressed, getting his backpack ready, brushing teeth, etc.
  4. Then comes the fun part: We set a family intention for the day. It could be to focus on being kind rather than right, to listen rather than speak all the time, or to remember to focus on our breathing when we are stressed. Whatever the intention, it sets a direction and compass for the day.
  5. Once out the door, we do our little imaginary routine. It comes with all sorts of fun physical gestures to demonstrate each action and goes something like this:
  • Superhero cape on (A pretend cape goes on behind the back and is tied around the neck.)
  • Change muscle activated (My son will flex his bicep as a symbolic gesture and reminder to himself that he is good at handling any change.)
  • Toolbelt on (He pretends to clip a belt around his waist with things he may need.)
  • Backpack filled with … (He inserts what he wants. Some days it could be animals he loves; other days, it might be a person he loves who lives far away.)
  • Who is holding your hand? (His Granddad and Uncle, who both passed away before he was born, are holding his hand at all times.)
  • In a bubble of golden "___" colored light. (He gets to choose the color he wants to surround himself with every morning.)
  • Shield up!

Once that is completed, he feels more than ready for a new day, whether it’s school or doing something new.

Let me describe a few of these in more detail so you don’t think I’m totally crazy and get the picture of what this all represents to a young child!

Superhero Cape On: This reminds them that they are all superheroes. Superheroes are not outside characters who are big and strong and mostly men. Every child is a superhero and has the ability to act like a superhero during their day. It's about an identity they can step into and look for ways to act like one.

Change Muscle Activated: For those of you who know me, I wrote a book on change and how to make it easier (in the first 30 days). In it, I talk about The Change Muscle and how we all have one…how it gets stronger the more we use it and especially the more we acknowledge and appreciate ourselves for going through another change. Kids are going through so much change every day! Let's honor them for that and mirror to them that they can handle it, no matter what.

Tool Belt On: My son has different things he likes to have on his imaginary toolbelt. Taking deep breaths is one. Drinking water is another. Using his intuition when he doesn’t know something. Regardless of what tools your child might put on, they are things to grab hold of while they are out and about their day.

Backpack: This is one of the favorite ones for kids I’ve taught this to. Most kids already have a real backpack (filled with boring things like homework, books, and lunch perhaps). Here they get to imagine what or who they want in their backpack to accompany them throughout their day. Let them be creative. Nothing is too big or too strange.

Hand Holding: This is another one where the child gets to choose who they want around them, that they can call on to help during the day. For my son, he always chooses the two family members he has lost, to watch over him no matter what.

Bubble of Light: The child gets to choose the color that feels best to them that morning. Red-Gold-Turquoise-Pink-Green. Anything goes. They make the gesture of having a bubble of light all around them, from top to toe.

Shield Up: This is to teach kids that they have a choice to let in what they want or shield themselves from bad words, actions, bullying, or unkind behavior. The shield acts to bounce back any of those things to the person doing them, to have them experience what it feels like. The shield helps kids feel strong in the face of some tough stuff they may encounter at school or during their day. Kids feel less hurt, less reactive, and less affected once they remember to put their shield up in the morning. (Believe me, I've forgotten to put my own shield up and have felt the consequences later on!)

That’s pretty much it. The whole thing can be done in less than a minute and doesn’t need to be flashy or noticeable. My son and I have done it during our running dash to school. The predictability of the routine, the fact that you, as the adult, go through all the steps too (demonstrating that this helps you as well, which it really does!) and the sense of inner power that comes with it, prepares the child for the unknown of the day ahead and gives them what they need to thrive.

I hope you try it with your tiny humans. I will share our evening ritual in my next article!

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