This week, I will repost highlights from readers' comments and my reply to them. I will also post some tips from Dana. Last, I will finish off with a report of how things are going in our house with this issue. All this in hopes it might help someone else as much as it has helped me.
Janel wrote, in response to my saying that my husband and I like to work on obedience in the everyday little things before fighting the "stay in bed" battle:
I think the obedience thing DOES start when they're little, and one of the first things is "stay in bed."I completely agree that obedience DOES start when they're little. I was only stating that I prefer to tackle areas of obedience a little at a time, both for my stress level and that of my child. I also am not a fan of the temptation method. (Setting a cookie in front of a child and telling them not to eat it.) If I know they are not mature enough in their obedience to stay out of the pantry or to keep from climbing on the kitchen counter, then I am not going to move them over to a toddler or big kid bed if I do not need to.
So if I can avoid the obedience to stay in bed until they are a bit more mature, then that's what I would prefer. I realize I cannot save that battle until they are 18, but I like it better when it waits until they are over 2 1/2.
I, by no means, wanted anyone to infer that I think every parent should leave their child in a crib until they are a certain age and should not teach their child to obey. We all have our own opinions and family needs and personalities.
Janel also reminded,
It also helps if I think ahead about all the things they're liable to come up with after I tuck them in and deal with them beforehand (drink of water, potty, stuffed animal, right blankets, etc).This is a must around here for our older two. It gets pretty annoying sometimes when all I want to do is get them all in bed so I can have peace and quiet, but we've got to take the time to cover all the bases... did you get a drink? Did you brush your teeth? Did you go potty? Did you remember you meerkat and baby doll? Did you get your blanket? Do you have all your bankies? There are some nights when I just want to tell them to go to bed and know that they will do it all themselves.
But I always know if I don't take the time to cover all that, Cherith and Daryn will remember... after the light's out and the door is closed.
She struggles with staying down for naps as well. I've found that it was time to move her nap back by a few hours.... So moving it back to 2:00 has cut down on it tremendously. She'll still play some, but it's usually in bed, and she eventually drifts off.We've had to do the same thing with all of our children too, right around 2 yrs. old, depending on the season. Ethan transitioned to that earlier than the older two, but I think it is because of the season. Living in almost constant snow and cold for MONTHS, he's not able to get outside as much to burn off all that energy. The other two were able to practically spend all morning outside when they were Ethan's age. So they were worn out after lunch.
Erica's comment was just plain encouraging. She talked about her experience with her son, stating that one night, she put him back in bed 30 times. Just knowing that she went through the situation with her strong willed child and can now say that all the hard work paid off... that just makes me smile out of sheer hope. (And of course, I just love anything she has to say anyway. So fun to live bloggy land with a childhood friend.)
Sarah mentioned that she used a "3 Bedtime Rules" poster and sticker chart for one of her boys. But what really got me most from her comment was...
It also helps if you wait just outside the door where he can't see you and catch him in the act of disobeying.I think this one thing has been key this past week. It's exhausting. The first several days, I felt like I spent my entire afternoon and evening standing in front of that door. My back and feet ached.
But I found that it was best to catch him right away rather than him climb out of bed and play for a while without my knowing. If he had time to play before I "caught" him, then he was essentially being rewarded for getting out of bed, and as a result, he saw that the punishment was worth enduring for those few minutes of playtime.
Momofthree wrote about how she would take away her oldest child's sleeptime belongings as punishment for getting out of bed. I tried that, but ended up with the same results she had with her son...
He brought his lovies with him to hand me when I caught him out of bed.
Tonight, I decided to look up what Dana Obleman had to say on the subject. She had several ideas, one of them being to put the child back in bed with no eye contact or any speaking at all. This actually sounds like something I might try.
So after trying all sorts of methods... I have found that putting him in bed with something to distract him (a toy or book, but not an entire crib full of entertainment) helps. I have found that standing outside the door and catching him right away is key. When he does get out of bed, I remind him of the consequences and let him know "this is happening because you got out of bed" and then I put him back in bed and leave him.
It does not work for me to take away his bed stuff, listen to his excuses or wants, try to reason with him on why he needs to stay in bed (he doesn't care), or to just ignore him and hope he gets tired and goes to bed on his own.
Today, he only got out of bed 3 times at naptime and NOT AT ALL tonight! I am completely and totally shocked. I'm seriously hoping this means he's "getting it" and not just that he was being good because daddy was around. I took care of all bedtime issues with Ethan, even though Aaron was home (with Aaron telling him to obey mommy). That way, Ethan would see that my authority was "just as good" as daddy's.
Hope all this is a help to someone. If not, it certainly helped me to mentally makes sense of it all.