Let’s face it—we love our sleep as parents! Once our kids get past the infant/toddler stage, we expect sleep to not become an issue. But that’s not always the case, as this mom writes about her seven-year-old son who is an super-early riser.

Q: Our seven-year-old son has always been up with the birds, which means anywhere between 4:30 a m and 5 a.m.). On the plus side, he goes to sleep at 6.30 p.m. without any trouble. We have tried over the years to discipline and or to reward him in this area to no avail.

He has learned in the past two years to at least stop coming to wake us up and now prefers to read in bed or play quietly in his room. The trouble is that the early start to his day means he’s then cranky and disobedient as the day and especially school week drags on.

We have also tried putting him to bed later, but he still wakes up at the same time every morning. We would welcome any suggestions you have.

A: Some kids have internal clocks that are set way too early, but there’s no changing Mother Nature in this case. My advice is to stop trying to change his internal clock and instead manage the outflow. He will gradually start sleeping in more as he hits puberty.

For the crankiness, I would put him to bed at 6 p.m. I know, that probably runs into dinner time, but even a half hour earlier could make difference. Try that and see if he’s better throughout the week.

Keep a “cranky” journal for a week, noting when he’s really out of sorts to see if there’s a time of day or circumstance correlation. That will help you devise the best proactive plan for handling it.

You don’t mention if he has downtime during the school week, so if he’s in sports, etc., I would take him out and just let him go to school and home. He’s only seven, so he has plenty of time for sports or activities later. Right now, it’s very important that he’s rested. Make sure he gets lots of fresh air and playtime to burn off energy. Give him snacks to keep his energy level up. Make sure he’s properly hydrated. All of these things can make a person cranky.

You can also keep a “cranky” journal for a week, noting when he’s really out of sorts to see if there’s a time of day or circumstance correlation. That will help you devise the best proactive plan for handling it. For example, when we have rain for a few days in a row, I know my two boys will be crankier than usual because they haven’t been able to play outside. So I’m ready with suggestions and reminders to be kind to one another.