Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The ticket to a good night's sleep

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.


PastorMac's Ann said...

This is a great idea! Your description of it is priceless! ;-) Thanks for sharing.

Carrie said...

what a great idea! my 2 1/2 year old is just starting in his toddler bed...we'll be putting this tactic to use soon i hope.

Anonymous said...

I'll be using this tonight! My Steven is 4 and I am desperate for something new to try. Thank you so much!

Radioactive Jam said...

*contemplates definition of 'rings' for 20-year old*

Julie said...

Thanks. And thanks for visiting

I hope it works for the younger set. Oh that we had figured this out years ago.

Good luck!

I'm not much help with the older set either. But there's bound to be a bribe that would serve as an equivalant. I think it's just the feeling of having his own power that he likes so much. (my son that is, but maybe this applies to 20 year olds as well).

elasticwaistbandlady said...

We homebirthed both of my toddlers. So, they were born on the bed, and just never left. It's bad for the sake of sleeping space, but good for warming up cold feet, and birth control.

Larae said...

Aww I love this! Such a cute idea and such a cute little boy =) Thank you so much for sharing, I definitely have to keep this in mind!

The Lazy Organizer said...

I'm so excited for you! I'm sure everyone is so much happier with more sleep.

Lovely, my 20 month old, just learned to crawl out of her crib today. Isn't that the greatest news!!!

Ruth said...

That is a fantastic idea! Glad you're getting some more sleep too.

Jennifer said...

Great ideas! I have a 2 1/2 year old still in a crib (which I use as long as possible), but this sounds like such a great idea!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Very sweet! We just went through this with our five-year-old - and she has not even been recently displaced. Love is spelled T-I-M-E - why is that one the hardest thing to give sometimes?? Thanks for visiting my blog - so nice to meet you here. I enjoyed poking around and getting to know your family. I laughed so hard about Curious George. He's quite naughty, isn't he? Sheesh!

Jenn said...

You are a genius! I want to print this one out and save it for when we do have kids!


Anonymous said...

what a great idea! I will have to try this tonight! I'm sure it will work better than my frustrated, "Is your bed on fire?!?! Then stay in it!"