[Lowe's Utilitech Siren] Interesting uses: "Wake up alarm" for a rebellious teenager... Muahahahaha

Almost weekly, my son Mike presents me with a new challenge to my authority… It’s part of being a teenager; he’s expressing himself as an independent young man more and more.

Most of his “rebellion” over the last several months/years has been of the passive kind. The “I forgot” when asked to do something, that sort of thing.

For the last couple of weeks my wife Cindy, and Mike have been going to the gym off and on before work/school (respectively). Lately, Mike has not been setting his alarm early enough to allow a thirty minute cardio session before school, even though he’s been told several times by both Cindy and I to do so. “I forgot” or “It was on radio instead of buzzer… Oops.”

Trust in dad to use technology to prevent this particular streak from continuing. Some say it may be a bit cruel, others will laugh and want to know how to make it happen for their kids… But I expect tomorrow morning to be the last time Mike fails to set his alarm on time.

You see, I hid a smart alarm in his bedroom. The kind that sounds when you break into a business, etc. It’s tied to my phone, so I can set it off at any time, and turn it off. The batteries are not removable without tools, and the only way to silence it is for Mike to text me in the morning to beg me to shut if off.

He’s not aware it’s there, but he will be suddenly aware of it in the morning if he’s not up at the correct time.

I hope to only have to use it one time. I’ll let him decide if that is the case.

For the record, this is the Lowe’s Utilitech ZWave siren. It’s LOUD!



I might have to set an alarm just to wake up and read the followup story.

Hmm, I think this may not be the best way to deal with teenager, communication will probably help


Unfortunately, communication has failed. Telling him to be up at a specific time so he has time to get his morning chores done and join my wife in the gym doesn’t work. It takes a week or two of us telling him to get up on time and him “refusing” by using the “I forgot” excuse for him to finally come out and say "I can do it after school, why do I have to get up so early?"
The answer to that question is: “Because you have a proven track record of saying you’ll do something, and then the second you are out of supervision range you sit down on your cell phone, or read a book, or do something other than what you were told to do and said you would.” And, historically, that is what he has done. “Clean your room” leads to a power struggle in which I remove everything he holds dear (his electronics), and he just shrugs it off. I’m tired of fighting. We’re going guerrilla tactics now. And the alarm is the first part. Up next, Z-Wave switch to control the light in his room since he shuts the fan light off by the pull string to avoid the flip of the switch in the morning. So, out comes the pull chain, in goes the switch.

If all else fails… jars of marbles in the freezer.

You should video the first few mornings with the alarm lol. If he has a set time to go to sleep you can also use ST to systematically shut off lights slowly letting him know it’s time.

No siren this morning. It’s only a matter of time…

At least the cats stopped playing with the buttons.

The teenage brain

He’s a teenager. His brain doesn’t work yet. Literally.

So there’s no reason to go all Great Santini on his ass. That won’t work either, and you’ll just eventually end up with a 35-year-old son who doesn’t like you very much. You can’t expect him to handle things the way an adult would, because his brain just isn’t fully connected yet.

Instead, follow your other set of instincts, and outsmart the teenage brain by making it possible for him to be successful. Removing the fan cord is a great idea.

Light as a wake up call

As far as getting him up on time, try one of the light alarms based on circadian rhythms where the light in the room gradually gets brighter. Not super bright all at once, but a slow brightening. Parents used to go into teenage rooms and open the curtains a little in the mornings and it’s amazing how much easier they will wake up. Now you can do all that with automation, and using what’s typically called “gentle wake up” with a single smart bulb can be just as effective. :sun_behind_large_cloud::sun_behind_small_cloud::sunny:

Hearing without Understanding

Teenage brains are literally bad at processing sound. It’s one of the reasons they have their music turned up loud enough to damage hearing. There’s a longer delay in processing sound than there would be for an adult brain. Which is why you end up telling them to do the same thing four times. By the time you said that, their brain is getting around to processing the first verbal request.

light notifications

So again, outsmart the teenage brain with technology! Color light notifications work better for many teens than sound.

My housemate has been a little slow to move out of the teenage status. He’s 29 now but when he was 25 he might as well have been 18. If he was playing a video game, no amount of yelling, text messages, or even sirens would get his attention.

Now we have a light strip in front of the TV. If I need his help (i’m quadriparetic), The light strip turns orange. He’ll respond to that almost instantly. :sunglasses:

Other options

Having a coffeemaker that turns on downstairs can also be a helpful wake up call for a teenager. Something that draws them forward. I saw one blog that said that distant music with a girl’s voice would attract a teenage boy, so the parents set a Music player in the kitchen to play Katy Perry songs pretty softly starting at five minutes after their regular alarm time and without saying anything to their son he started showing up in the kitchen every morning right on time. That one cracked me up, but I believe it. :tada:

There are lots of ways to work with teenagers, but the successful ones all have to take into account the extra amount of time it takes their brains to process and make decisions. They just aren’t adults yet. But that’s why we’re smarter than they are. :wink: We can structure the environment so it helps the kid be successful. Just don’t count on him to contribute as much in that area as an adult would-– he just literally doesn’t have the tools yet.

@bamarayne has five or six kids: he might have more to add.


But blasting an alarm to wake him up sounds so much more fun lol

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I understand your struggle.
I have Two (2) sixteen year old boys and a 13 year old boy at home, along with a 6 year old boy and a one year old girl. I truly live the struggle.

First of all, boys are morons. Teenage boys are brain dead zombie walking eating sleeping morons.

About the older two…

One wakes up very easy. No problems getting him up and moving. No problem getting him to do it all on his own. Often times I don’t have to check on him. This is the younger of the two. We will call him Kris. Kris is a moron.

The other one is Justin. He’s the older one. He’s also a moron. He sleeps like the dead. Almost impossible to wake up. It’s always a fight. Even after his 15 alarms have gone off. Like I said, he’s a moron. He’s also the lazy one.

They both work at McDonald’s. Kris has a license, Justin does not. Kris barely works any hours because he thinks the job is beneath him. Justin works 40 plus hours a week. Kris got paid 18.00 last week. Justin got paid 600.00.

Remember Kris has a license Justin does not. Justin had a car Kris does not. The car is sitting in the driveway because I won’t pay for the ins. So Kris begs to drive my trick and I tell him no. Justin just goes to sleep.

But I digress. I use consequences of choices. Kris can’t drive anymore because he chooses to not make enough move to pay for the ins. Justin doesn’t drive drive because he, well he’s to lazy to get up and go get his license.

So more to the point. I have speakers set up in the house. Each kids room had a sunrise lamp. I have a daily alarm sound over the speakers. The kids must get out of bed and catch the bus. Of they don’t they suffer the consequences… which is they get to listen to me on the way to school and I make sure they are tardy and eventually end up in detention.

If Justin doesn’t get up to go to work I don’t make him. He had to face his boss when he’s late… He’s doing much better now.

Actually both are doing much better since I quit fighting and doing it for them. I leave it up to them. I give then the tools to succeed and I make the consequences of failure much worse.


This thread is great! I’m struggling with the same issues right now, and of course my thought is to throw in more technology. The wife is against it because “automatic lights turning on is not teaching him how to get up on his own” yada yada yada. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who fights this (and tries to solve all problems with ST)!


As a teenager myself… I’m scared. Also, partially inspired. There really aren’t many connected alarm clocks.


Wow. This is a great idea. My son is 11.