Why do my kids always fight bedtime? This is a typical scene in our house:
I say ‘goodnight’ to Ben and close his door. A minute later I hear him over the monitor.
‘What is it?’
‘I need a drink’
I fetch him some water and go back downstairs for a minute before he calls me again.
‘What is it?’
‘I can’t find Sweep!’
I stumble around in the dark looking for his favourite toy only to find that it was in his hand all along.
Another minute goes by-
‘I’ll tell you when you get here!’
Losing my patience I march into his room.
‘Um, what day is it tomorrow?’
‘That’s it, if you call me again I’m turning the monitor off!’
A minute later.
‘Mu-ummy! Before you turn the monitor off could you come and say “goodnight” to me one last time!’
Can Spock help?
Be firm and consistent in your expectations, it’s amazing how quickly your children will sweeten up.
Here’s what I did:
While Ben was relaxing in his bath (i.e. before battle lines were drawn) I told him that I wanted to be able to put him to bed and say goodnight without him calling me back every two minutes and to sweeten the deal I told him if he managed to stay quiet after lights out, I’d take him to the playground ‘with the really big slide’ in the morning.
At first he tried to negotiate- But can I call you if I need a drink, or if Sweep falls out of bed?
No, you can’t. I’ll put water by your bed and tuck Sweep in with you before I go.
But what if….
I countered each hypothetical until he’d run out of possible mishaps and when I kissed him ‘goodnight’ I reminded him about our deal.
The playground with the really big slide, not the one up the road?-he said
The one with the really big slide– I said kissing his forehead
He did call me once on some spurious excuse but instead of going up to him I said over the monitor-
Are you sure you want me to come up or would you rather go to the playground tomorrow?
He was quiet for a moment. Would it work?
Thanks Dr Spock- here’s hoping this will become a habit before I’ve run out of incentives!