I always felt like the early rising was, at least in part, due to this crazy attachment they have to me. As soon as their eyes flutter in the morning, they jump out of bed and race to my room. This seems to be the case because they often sleep later if they are sleeping over at someone else's house or if I am out of town.
It is not unusual for my kids to wake between six and seven. At times, they get into a rut where they keep getting up earlier and earlier. Especially my son. If he wakes up at 6:30 one day, the next day he might wake at 6:00 and the next day at 5:45. I thought if they knew they couldn't get up before a certain time they would stop waking up so early.
For my daughter, I put an alarm clock in her room and told her she could come out when the first number turned to seven. That worked like a charm for her.
When I started this with my son, he was so young he didn't yet know his numbers. I had to come up with something else. I bought a timer (the kind you would put on a lamp) and attached it to a small turtle lamp we had. (This was one time holding on to all kinds of junk worked out. This was a lamp someone gave us for our wedding.) I set the timer for seven. At seven, the light turns on. If his turtle is on when he wakes up, he can get up. If it is not, he has to wait until it comes on. This works GREAT, if I stay consistent with it. If I start letting up, he gets into the habit of waking earlier and earlier and we have to start over.
It's always difficult at first. Usually, the first day he comes in before seven I take him back to his room. Of course, he whines and cries and makes it hard on both of us. The next day I tell him he has to go back to his room on his own or there will be a consequence (usually loss of tv for the day.) He goes back, whining as he does it. After a day or two, he stays in his room until seven (or later) and it was all worth it.
I'm linking up to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.
My son was such a horrible sleeper we saw a sleep specialist around his first birthday and then again around his second birthday. She recommends using an auditory signal. The theory behind that is that it's easier for the child to fall back to sleep if they wake up and don't hear something. If you use a visual signal and they wake up, looking at something requires them to wake up more than listening for something. They don't even need to open their eyes if they don't hear the sound. Also, if you use a visual signal they will lay there and look at the light, which will keep them up. My issue with the auditory signal is that if my son was asleep and the sound started, it woke him up. The lamp I use isn't so bright it wakes him up if he is asleep when it turns on. I did have to put a slipper on over the timer because it is a little loud when it clicks on.