How Do I Get My Preschooler to Stay in Bed?

Question from a Mom:
“My husband and I are disagreeing about the best way to get our three 3 year old to  stay in bed. I wonder if you can point me in the right direction to find information from Love and Logic on bedtime struggles with young children.” 

Answer:
Use the Love and Logic skill of choices to handle the bedtime issue. In the parenting classes that I teach, there are a few rules.  Only give 2 choices, make sure you are happy with both options, and after 10 seconds, you choose for them with empathy.

Here’s an example of how to use them to keep your child in bed.

1. Give lots and lots of choices while getting ready for bed to build up your “savings account of choice deposits.”

2.   When it’s time for “lights out,” try these choices:

Do you want 5 kisses or 6?  Do you need another hug?  Is that enough hugs and kisses to get you through the night or do you need a few more?  Do you need another kiss on your nose?  On your hand?

Do you want me to check on you in 2 minutes or 3?  She’ll probably choose 2 minutes, so set the timer (bring it with you – don’t leave it in the room) and let her know you’ll be back to check on her so she doesn’t need to get up.
In 2 minutes, go back in and ask her if she wants to be checked on in 4 or 5 minutes.  Let her choose, then leave again with the timer.
In 4 minutes go back in and ask her if she wants 8 or 9 minutes before your next check in.
Repeat as necessary. She should be asleep by the time you go back in the 3rd or 4th time.

After a few days, you can start with a longer initial time interval, like 4-5 minutes, but in training, start with small increments to build the trust.

If she gets out of bed, make a withdrawl from the choice bank,  “Didn’t mommy give you lots of choices?   It’s my turn, you need to stay in your room, thanks for understanding.  Good night.”  Be loving, but firm.

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