On Monday, I wrote about Nathan's big morning tantrum but didn't have time to talk about how I dealt with it. I've gotten a couple of questions, so I thought I'd go over it.
Nathan has always needed some time to wake up. Normally, it's not a problem because he wakes up earlier than everyone else and he can take the 20-30 minutes to gradually become alert. Then he's a bouncy, cheery morning person.
When I saw he was still asleep, I knew I had to go slowly. The best technique is to gently touch his feet or hands, which starts to bring him up out of sleep. Then I have to keep doing it at irregular intervals to stop him from falling back asleep. I can't talk to him, can't make a joke or do anything too obvious that I'm waking him up.
On Monday, as soon as I touched him, he began to growl and scream at me. So I knew: not good. At that point, I've lost the waking-up-with-a-modicum-of-cheer battle but I can't afford to lose the entire waking-up war. I had to keep on preventing him from falling back asleep, which kept triggering new screams, throwing things and growling.
I had a real dilemma. When we have a bad wake-up like this, it often means a very bad day. Should I send him to school and risk a major set-back to our good progress? What would I do with him if he stayed home (need to not reinforce this behaviour by letting him have a fun day playing at home)? How far do I push him? After forty minutes, I had real concerns that we didn't have time to get ready for school. Do I force him to get dressed and carry him kicking and screaming to the school ground?
I decided that he had ten more minutes before I'd have to force the issue. Luckily he managed to calm down enough to be able to speak. He asked to go back to sleep and I told him there was no more time. I also warned him that there wasn't going to be time to play, that he'd used it all up having his tantrum. He started to complain that was unfair, I cut him off and told him I wasn't listening to it. That he'd made a choice to throw a tantrum rather than tell me what the problem was.
We got him to school and the teacher said he had a quiet day but an okay one.