I Need Your Advice

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Dear Internet – I need your advice.


For the past several weeks, we’ve been having a problem with our oldest child coming into our room before 6:30 am.

He’s 6 years old.

He has a clock in his room.

He has a watch in his room.

He knows how to tell time.

He knows that he is not allowed to come into our room until after 6:30 during the week and after 7 am on the weekends. He knows that he can play in his room. He can read in his room. He can do pretty much anything he wants in his room.

He can go to the bathroom (which is right around the corner from his room).

The only rule is that he cannot come into our room until the designated time.

He is reminded of this rule every single night before he falls asleep.

Every. Single. Night.

And yet every single morning he comes into our room at least three times before 6:30 am.

It usually goes like this:

Stumble stumble stumble

Too-loud voice:MOM, Can I play in my room?

Me: It’s 5:45 am. Are you supposed to be in my room?

Him: I forgot.

Me: Go back to your room.

Him: But can I play in there?

Me: I don’t care what you do in there, just don’t come back in here until after 6:30.

Him: So I can play in there?

Even Steven: Go back to your room, son.

Even Steven

Loud Stomp, Loud Stomp, Loud Stomp, toilet seat crash, his door closing loudly.


pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter

Simon: Mom, is it time to get up?

Me: Simon, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go back to bed.

Simon: I want to snuggle with you.

Me: Okay – I want to snuggle with you too.

Simon: suck thumb, suck thumb, suck thumb…

stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp

Miles: Mom, can Simon play in my room?

Me: It’s only 6 am. Stop coming in here.

Miles: But can Simon play in my room?

Simon: Can I?

Me: Go – both of you out of here – but stay out of Alice’s room and be quiet!

Miles & Simon: Thunder, Giggle, Boom, Giggle, BOOM, Squeal

Tap Tap Tap Tap Tap

Alice: Mom, can I play with the boys?

Me: Alice – it’s only 6:15 in the morning. Dad’s alarm hasn’t even gone off yet.

Alice: But can I play with them?

Me: Sure – but be quiet!


Alice: MOM! The boys won’t let me play with them.

Alarm goes off.

It’s time to start the day.

I’m not even exaggerating when I tell you that it’s like this 9 out of 10 mornings.

We started a new rule that every time Miles comes into our room, he has to go to bed 15 minutes earlier.

But this didn’t work so well. While it stopped him from coming in for a 2nd or 3rd time, he still would forget and come in the first time – which would lead to Simon waking up – and the cycle starting all over.

And – when he’d go to bed 15 minutes earlier, he started waking up a little earlier too.

I don’t know about you, but when kids start talking to me before 6 am, I am GRUMPY!

I’ve been asking friends and family for their advice, but so far only my mom has weighed in.

Her idea?

Tell him that every time he comes into your room, you’re taking Alice and Simon to the toy store to pick out a toy. And he won’t get one.

Which pretty much makes her the worst grandmother on earth. And is also a little funny because she NEVER would have done something like that to me when I was little.

So – Internet – what’s your advice? Torture him at the toy store? Put up a gate in his room? Set my alarm for 5 am, so at least I’m waking up on my own and not because a 6-year-old is waking me up? Leave your ideas in the comments section – or on Facebook. And thanks in advance!


  1. k

    March 11, 2014 at 7:10 am

    A family I used to work for got a digital alarm clock with giant numbers and taped a written number 6 over the minutes. The rule was, if the numbers don’t match, you can’t get up yet. Maybe that’d be an extra visual? Put it right by the door if you have to.

    There’s always locking the door. Somehow I think kids will let you know if it’s a real emergency. Or actually, placing the clock outside YOUR door with a sign saying WAIT! Does it match? and an arrow pointing at it or something.

    The last thing you’ll hate me for. But it’s getting up, taking him by the hand/shoulder/ear… (j/k) and escorting him back to his room. No words, maybe pointing at a clock, but nothing else. He wants the attention and he’s getting it when you answer him.

  2. Alexa @ (

    March 11, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Hang a sign on his doorknob to remind him. And another on his light switch (a post it note might work for this), and yet another on the outside of your doorknob where he will see it before opening the door. Yes he is only six and reading war and peace is probably not on his daily agenda, but pictures work great in combination with words and he can even help design them or write the words (or trace over your pencil words with marker). So even if he cannot read a single word he can read the picture and a bonus is he may learn to read any words you do put on it. Make it big, bright and colorful and where he will see it or touch it BEFORE coming in and waking up mom and dad.

  3. Carol

    March 11, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Our children get tickets three times a day for doing their chores throughout the day, which since they are young, consist of things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting clothes away, making their beds. Tickets are then redeemed for privileges such as computer games, playing with the tablet, and watching videos (they get about 30 min. per ticket). Here’s the kicker: bad behavior can cost them a ticket. Believe me, it’s a very effective punishment. I’m pretty sure that if my six year old were coming in our room early and I told him it meant a loss of ticket, and followed through on that, it wouldn’t happen very many times. Tickets are a pretty valuable commodity in our house and the loss of one is cause for much dismay. Not that you have to do our whole system, but tying one of his regular privileges to the 6:00 rule might help.
    I’d focus only on the first number of the clock, as others have said. At more than half way through kindergarten, I’m sure he knows which numbers are less than 6 and which are more (if his math book is anything like my son’s), so do whatever reminders people suggest that you like to make him focus on that 6.
    Just my input.

  4. Sarey

    March 11, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Write a sign on your door that says “Miles you can play in YOUR room”
    Is there a special toy like legos you can lay out for the morning.
    A solution I know that works- but you will hate, is to half wake him a little before he normally wakes (so about 530) and then he drifts back to sleep and sleeps through the 545 slot- we only had to do this a few times and it worked.

  5. Katy

    March 11, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I think you have two options: 1) Lock your door. 2) Consequences have a strong way of making him remember if that’s the truth, or stopping him from manipulating you if that’s really what’s going on.

  6. Kristina Hammer

    March 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

    So, i don’t think your mom had THAT bad of a starter idea, but there’s gotta be a little more to it. Why not do a reward chart so the kids compete with each other and however many mornings worth of stickers they earn is the amount of items they may purchase front the local DOLLAR store (NOT the toy store, that price IS NOT Wyeth an extra hours sleep, lol!) every Sunday.

  7. Jen

    March 11, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Spare the Rod- Spoil the child! ; )

  8. Jamie

    March 11, 2014 at 8:33 am

    We use a popsicle stick reward system. Each kid has a jar and they can earn sticks for good behavior. Once their jar has 30 sticks, they can choose a date with mom or dad or go to the store and get a toy that is $5 or less (or a $5 gift card to Target that they can save). My kids earn a stick for staying in their rooms past 7:00. It doesn’t always work, but it definitely helps!

  9. Jill

    March 11, 2014 at 8:35 am

    We have an early riser too. He’s not allowed to come in until 6am and I also, am NOT, a morning person. We were letting him play but had to stop that bc of the noise level. Now, he has to stay in his bed. That could mean reading books (he has a little lamp on his nightstand) or listening to music quietly. The music thing has really worked. We have him my old phone loaded up with his music and he listens to it quietly. Then at 6am…exactly…he bounds into our room and we get a play by play of activities. Or…what if instead of an earlier bedtime, the consequence was that he can’t play in there and has to just sit and wait? Good luck! I feel you that the early wake ups are brutal!

  10. Donna

    March 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Totally kidding here, but I’m laughing cause I can picture it. Next time he does this, jump out of bed screeching like a mad woman -Get out of my room!! It’s not 6:30!!. Yell this over and over as you chase him back to his room.

  11. Beth

    March 11, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Adjust your bedtime so you wake up before the kids do. I guarantee they won’t wake up this early forever. At least they will be up and ready for school. I have a hard time waking my kindergartener up in the morning.

  12. amy

    March 11, 2014 at 8:47 am

    I like the visual reminders ie notes. Staples sells self adhering white board ‘labels’, place one on your doir and his…heck, start it for all of them, use pictures for little ones. They’re like 3.99. I use them w my high schooler and jr high student for chores, reminders for school stuff or to just let them know where I am (usually therapy for youngest) He might just want your company, or is comforted by noise? Put a radio/cd/dvd player in there (sony makes one that you can lock the sound level on)…ipod? Kindle? Sounds to me like he’s uncomfortable being up alone and wants company.

  13. Darren

    March 11, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Since going to bed earlier means they get up earlier….what happens if they go to bed later? Another option: Get some Command Hooks and hang things like the duster, broom, dust pan, Etc. outside your door. Each time they wake you up early, give them a chore to do (Dust, sweep, clean the bathroom). The more chores they do = “Don’t wake up mommy she’ll put us to work!”

  14. Alisa

    March 11, 2014 at 9:13 am

    We have had this problem with our now 3.5yo over the last year. He shares a room with his brother so it is extra important that he is quiet until it is ok to get up. We bought a large wall hung night light and put it on the timer. The rule is simple, if the sun is on, you can get up. It was very exciting that the light turned on automatically, so it only took a few days for him to remember it each morning.
    I think the best consequence would be to lose a toy for the day. Whatever his favorite toy is, it’s yours for the day if he comes in your room. Or Wii privileges, or TV (but that might hurt you more than him…) but hit him where it hurts.
    I also think a visual reminder on your door and his would be helpful. But if it is dark, will he even see it?
    I also agree that he might be lonely or seeking attention. In that case, maybe the reward is some special time with Mom or Dad. Stay in your room for a week, get an ice cream date with Dad. We’ve struggled a lot with this issue and it SUCKS. I hope you find something that works!!

  15. J.T.

    March 11, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Hmmm, snuggled or shooed- which one were you given as a little 6 year old? I say let him crawl in on the side and then announce the no talking rule until 6:30. It will work.
    I can remember the days when the little ones would bring their toys in and play on the floor next to the bed- what a way to begin the day- clunk, clunk

  16. Alisa

    March 11, 2014 at 9:15 am

    One more thought. Maybe let the dog sleep in his room so there is someone to play with when he wakes up?

  17. Becky

    March 11, 2014 at 9:17 am

    It sucks but get up and take him back to his room. It may take 2 or 3 nights but he will get the point. If that doesn’t work after a few days hit the toy store like your mom said….it will only take one trip and that will reset his mind about getting up. He will be upset about it and will probably always remember but that’s the point. Your mom’s idea will get his attention for sure and when he grows up he can blog about the “crazy” stuff his mom did when he was six to get him to stay in bed. 🙂 Good luck!

  18. Becky

    March 11, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I was also thinking if he needs extra mom/dad time then stay up a few minutes later with him one on one reading a chapter book or talking. It will keep him up in order to help him sleep in make him feel special…instead of going to bed earlier as a consequence give the reward of extra time.

  19. Dona

    March 11, 2014 at 9:27 am

    OK. No comment from me. You’ve got too many good ones already. I was raised, and raised my kids, with Jen’s comment. So good luck! Dona

  20. Katy Morgan (Katy in a Corner)

    March 11, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I know it’s not the most PC view, but I totally agree with Jen (and Katy above). This is pure and simple manipulation by your cuties. They know the rule and are clearly being disobedient. One or two days of restating the boundaries and then enforcing discipline will work.

  21. Kim

    March 11, 2014 at 9:40 am

    What if you tell him that if he enters your room for any reason before 6:30 the answer to whatever his question is will be NO. If he wants to play quietly in his room, then he should do it quietly because if he is loud and wakes mom or dad before 6:30 the toys will be removed from his room. Sounds harsh….but try this one or two times and he will quickly learn to stay out until the appointed time.

  22. Jenny Cardenas

    March 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

    No tv or getting an extra nap as a consequence cured my little one of this early wake-up call.

  23. MC

    March 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I also have an early riser, I took all toys out of his room. He was waking up because he wanted to play. When he started following the 7am rule, I added back a toy, but ifhe was loud, it got taken away again.

  24. Alishia Kuczynski

    March 11, 2014 at 10:23 am

    I don’t allow my kids in my room anyway. Now they can’t bug you…

  25. Mom2Trplts

    March 11, 2014 at 10:27 am

    When my triplets were little, I had a system similar to Carol’s and it worked really well. Each child started out with 3 smiling tiger faces on a felt board with Velcro. The assumption was that you started your day on a positive! Any infraction in behavior got a tiger face taken off. At the end of the day, if the child had 3 tigers, they picked from the ‘treat jar’ which consisted of small folded notes with things like ~ Sit behind Mommy in the Car, You choose the video for the Day, First to get lunch or You choose the Lunch, Etc. (my kids are almost 17 so it’s hard to remember, but they were simple, easy rewards). But consequence of poor behavior, losing a tiger face and losing the ability to choose from the jar was huge. I think reinforcing the clock and numbers to your little early riser will not adjust the manipulation. A reward/consequence idea might be the way to go, imo.

  26. Michelle

    March 11, 2014 at 11:47 am

    He’s a little kid who needs or wants his mommy. In my house kids who need or want Mommy get Mommy. Even if that means this mom hasn’t had many full night’s sleep in the past seventeen years. It’s part of the job.

  27. Sarah C

    March 11, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I bought the Onaroo Time to Wake clock for my daughter. It turns green when it is time to wake up in addition to having the time displayed. It keeps her in her bed until 7:15.

  28. Rita

    March 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    How about a reward system with a sticker chart. They get to help pick out the stickers , get a sticker put on the calendar dayfor every day they follow the rules and at the end of the week, if they have a full weeks worth of stickers, they get to choose a treat, like an ice cream date, a little toy. At the end of the month, if they have a full months worth of stickers, they get a bigger reward, like a movie date.
    I know bribery is frowned upon, but it usually works. Good luck with whatever you choose to do, I’ve been there and know it’s not fun.

  29. Ashlee

    March 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I almost tried a gate in my son’s doorway, but he would just yell from the gate and still wake me up. I would set punishments and rewards, but focus more on the punishments. Every day he comes into your room before the set time, he gets a punishment. Every week he doesn’t come into your room before the set time, he gets a reward.

  30. christine

    March 11, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    So I agree with Kim ‘s advice, let him know that if he comes in to ask the answer will be no. The sign on your door is great too if he has learned how to read, otherwise a not mean symbol that will remind him. Also when he comes in don’t do the other random comments , just tell him no and back to his room.
    It does not sound like he is reaching out for mama time so I would not feel guilty about that. And no reward chart and don’t chase hi back! It would be funny and then he would want to do it again and again.
    You could give him a hug and kiss and send him on his way as part of your morning.

  31. cheri

    March 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Does he have an electronic device or something else that his time to use is limited on? My 5 year old has one of our old iPhones she plays games on. And a kindle. And she knows if she gets up very early, which is unusual, she is allowed to play on it. She can get up, use the bathroom, get the device and get back in bed with it. She has to stay in bed. Mainly bc our house is freezing in the am! I have fought a long war to get my two littlest ones out of my bed through the night and during the early mornings.

  32. AJ

    March 11, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    We had that problem with C for a while, ended up getting him one of those toddler alarm clocks and it works great! Here’s the one we got (although there are a million different kinds):

  33. Tamryn

    March 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm

    I like the cuddle and not allow him to talk until 6:30. We’ve done this with our oldest when he comes in, and he either falls asleep or wants to go back to his room. Good luck.

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