What parent hasn’t felt like bedtime is a game of Whack-A-Mole? It goes something like this…you put your child to bed, minutes later they want a drink of water, you put them back to bed, minutes later they want a hug, you put them back to bed, minutes later they have to go pee, you put them back to bed, minutes later they fear there is a monster under the bed, and on and on causing you to delay your evening glass of wine. No wonder parents can relate to the book “Go The F- To Sleep.”
A friend of mine forwarded me this NPR article describing the “bedtime pass” strategy for children. Its’ essence, every night parents give children (preschool to elementary age) a bedtime pass card that allows them to get out of bed, for any reason, one time and then no more. Reportedly this helps parents to feel as if they are not just ignoring their children’s repeated requests and helps children to feel control over their bedtime routine.
I am curious if parents have tried this strategy and how they found it to work or not and under what circumstances. Feel free to share below.
And here are a couple of other good bedtime strategies to try.
- “Monster Spray:” Just take any type of spray bottle, make a “monster spray label” to replace the original label, and viola. The next time your child worries about a monster under the bed or in the closet just bust out the “monster spray.”
- Routine: Children respond well to structure and consistency and a bedtime routine helps them know what to expect. Give them notice then several reminders as time gets closer and then wrap up all activities, get jammies on, brush teeth, read a story, etc.
- Reflective Time: Have a few minutes in the evening before bed when you help your child to reflect on their day, what was the best part, what bothered them, etc. This helps them to process their day and express any challenges, worries, or sadness, which could interfere with sleep (just as that which occurs with adults when we can’t seem to shut off our brains to fall asleep).
- Bedtime Buddy: Most certainly your child has a favorite stuffed animal that they can’t sleep without. Use that. Make sure your child has their “bedtime buddy.” Then let them know that it is their job to help their “bedtime buddy” go to sleep, by placing the “buddy” on their chest and rocking them to sleep with their breathing. This helps children practice deep breathing, which helps to calm their mind and fall asleep. Also, if your child gets out of bed, it means that they are “waking” their “bedtime buddy.”
- Transition Object: Sometimes children can be afraid without their parents, particularly in the dark, or worried that their parents may leave and not return. A transition object is something belonging to parents such as a scarf or shirt that you give to your child for “safekeeping” in the night.
Good luck and sweet dreams!