I have heard parents say, “He ALWAYS gets up early. Winter and summer, he’s up at 6 AM.” The same parents who say this in despair have successfully changed their child’s internal clock twice in the previous year.
How do I know? Because twice a year, OUR clocks change – to and from standard time. If we can change a child’s internal clock in October and April, we can do it any time of the year.
It takes about a week or so to get the change to work. A one day try just doesn’t work. The keys to successfully adjusting a child’s inner clock are:
1) Don’t expect more than an hour’s change at a time.
2) Wake the child at the same time each morning for about a week.
Soon the child will automatically wake up at or near the target time every day.
Of course, if the child is sick, she will need extra rest. If you keep the child out late, she may wake up at the same time anyway, but be VERY cranky. Or, she may wake up fine and get cranky later. It’s the same idea when traveling to another time zone – and back again.
PLEASE also remember to slightly adjust meal times for the first week of a clock change. More adjustment at the start of the week, gradually changing to less by the end of the week. If the children nap, adjust those times slightly as well. Hungry and tired children are cranky children who can present us with all sorts of (preventable) challenging behaviors.