Managing Bedtime

Managing Bedtime

This was a suggestion that was given to me by my secretary a couple of months ago. My wife and I were having some problems at bedtime with the children. Once we put our children to bed at night, they always came up with some idea or some reason why they needed to get up again. One thing that we've been doing is adhering to a good, strict bedtime. Sometimes the kids just weren't sleepy, but they also realized that my wife and I could be real "softies" when it came down to little things that they thought they needed after we had already tucked them in. For example, a drink of water, getting up to go to the bathroom, etc. The big "hot button" that they used on me was to say they were hungry. Coming from an Italian family, that was a real tough one for me to ignore. So bedtime became somewhat of a battle with the kids. 

However, we devised a system for a "bedtime pass". Each child is allowed a "get out of bed pass" for the night. They were excited about it because they made their own pass out of cardboard, colored them and put their names on them. This pass gives them the opportunity to get out of bed one time per night, with a valid reason for why they are getting out. They can choose which thing is important enough to use up that pass. We don't have much of a limit on it as long as it is within reason. If they want to get up and take something out of the closet and put it on their desk, they could do that. 

We were surprised to see how quickly it worked with the children. What we discovered was that as they began to realize that they only had one shot at getting up for something, it had better be good; something they really wanted to do or needed to do. As that progressed along, we realized they started valuing this pass and valuing their decisions and they would conserve it and wait to see if something came up that they wanted to do. Most of the time they would wind up falling asleep and not even using the pass.