A Works for me Wednesday tip
I have such great news that I honestly want to sing Hallelujah from the rooftops but I’ll content myself with posting it on my blog instead: my 4 year old is finally staying in bed at night! Let me just explain that this has been a long time coming and I’m so happy with the solution that I have to share it just in case it’s not a fluke and it might actually work for others.
The problem: We did the whole “evening routine” approach with the brushing of teeth and the telling of stories and the saying of prayers and the tucking of covers. We did the “putting him to bed early” approach and the “letting him stay up a little later” approach. We pleaded and praised and bribed and ignored and threatened. And Gabriel would still come out of bed roughly 100 times a night. He always needed just one more glass of water or one more kiss or one more hang-upside-down-off-the-couch session. This went on for months. And I must say, Gabriel is an adorable, sweet-natured child, but at 10 or 11 or 12 pm, even the cuteness was wearing a bit thin. (Did I put this euphemistically enough? What I really want to admit is that I was ready to SCREAM! with frustration).
The solution: In one of my favorite books – Unconditional Parenting – Alfie Kohn suggests that instead of focusing on “undesirable behavior” we ought to think about what the child needs. So I finally asked myself the obvious question: What does Gabriel need? And guess what? The answer was not a glass of water. Gabriel has been recently displaced as the youngest child by his attention-magnet sister and what he really needs is more time with his mom and dad. Yeah, I know you probably all saw that WAY before me and you don’t even live in my house. I’m pretty slow sometimes.
So we tried a new approach. Gabriel gets 3 “tickets” in the evening when he is tucked in bed. They are actually plastic rings but we call them tickets because he can exchange them one at a time if he wants to come out for any reason. If he keeps any tickets by staying in bed, in the morning he can trade them in – each ticket is worth one book with mom.
It’s simple and has worked like a charm for 2 weeks now. The first night, Gabriel didn’t even step out of the room once. I walked around the whole evening holding my breath and smiling in a kind of surreal stupor. In the morning, Gabriel walked into the kitchen rubbing his eyes with one hand and holding out the 3 rings with the other – ready for his stories. Now how cute is that?
To see more Works for me Wednesday ideas visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer.
Tags: Works for me Wednesday, bedtime, Alfie Kohn, unconditional parenting