There’s something so adorable about the first time your toddler comes out of their room after bedtime looking for another kiss goodnight.
It gets significantly less adorable when they start doing it fifteen times a night. Somehow, the charm just wears a little thin.
But how are you supposed to keep them in their room if they decide they want to come hang out after bedtime?
Well, the short answer is through consequences.
The long answer you can find in today’s video.
Let me paint you a little picture. You’ve had a long, tough day. You’ve put the children to bed. You pour yourself a glass of wine or make a cup of tea. You sit down on the couch and you’re ready to press Play on what you’ve got taped. Your favorite show is about to begin. Ah, a little piece of heaven and then a cute little face peeks around the doorway.
Well, one time, not that big of a deal. She looks adorable in her jammies freshly scrubbed from the tub. Hard to resist. You go return her to her bed, tend to whatever demands she has made, more kisses, drink of water, whatever it is and come back to the couch ready to press Play. There she is again. Not as cute this time, right?
Five times later, 10 times later, 15 even times later, this experience is probably driving you crazy and that’s, you know what, you’re human, that’s normal.
So today I wanna give you some tips for dealing with that. It’s really, really common. So nobody panic if this is happening for you. I don’t know a child who hasn’t gone through this little phrase but we really do need to consequence it, right? Even if she feels like you’re getting annoyed with her or even if you’re getting a little bit cross or angry or even raising your voice, for most kids, that won’t deter them.
For most children, attention is attention, doesn’t matter if it’s negative or positive. They’ll take it any way they can get it. So you really don’t wanna waste your breath or your energy on that kind of a strategy. It’s better to give children one warning, right, ’cause the first time you don’t mind so much.
So up you get, you return her to her bed, you kiss her goodnight again and you tell her that’s your one warning. You may not come out of your bedroom again or something will happen. This is the deterrent. This is the consequence. If you come out of that bed, something will happen that you will not enjoy.
Now, what are the consequences? Well, it really depends on your child but for a lot of children, simply closing the door all the way like to click. One of my clients said the child said don’t close the door to click but all of the way is often enough where they’ll not like it and decide to stay in their bed.
Now, I’m not saying we’re gonna close the door tightly for the entire night but you can do it for increments of time. So the first time maybe it’s three or four minutes that door stays all the way closed. The next time it’s five or six minutes. The next time it’s seven or eight minutes until it’s enough minutes that the child really decides I don’t like that, I’m going to stop the behavior, I’m going to stay in my bed so the door can be open a crack.
Now, what happens if you go to close that door to click and she comes a running to the door to see what’s up? You’re gonna have to secure it. So you’re gonna have to hang on to it. If she’s pulling on the other side, you’re just holding that closed. You start with a couple of minutes, that’s all, it’s okay. We’re consequencing, right? We don’t really want her to like it. That’s the point here.
After the couple of minutes, we open the door, we return her to her bed and we leave the door open a crack or halfway, whatever she’s used to. Now, for some children, that doesn’t bother them to have the door closed all the way or that scenario doesn’t sound like a good fit for you then find something else.
Maybe it’s take away the lovey. If she’s got a special sleeping toy or a blanket that she loves a lot, you can take that again in increments of time. There’s nothing we’re doing that’s gonna last the entirety of the night. We’re just taking things away for short term periods that get longer and longer each time she tests you.
I’ve had clients who we’ve had to take the night light for short increments of time. It can really be anything that your child’s really not going to enjoy that much so that we can stop the behavior and here’s the good news. The first couple of times especially if this has been going on for a long time for you the first few nights it’s not gonna feel like any fun but neither does the other scenario, right?
So you’re going to absolutely experience some pushback and you might even experience an increase in that pushback for those first few nights and that is okay because we’re trying to change a behavior and any time you try to change a behavior, guess what? It gets worse first. Absolutely does.
So it’s gonna get worse but the good news is that once she sees you mean business that it’s only ever one warning and then a consequence, she’ll stop or she’ll just come out that one time where it was still cute and then know that I’m not gonna go out there again because something will happen if I do that I don’t like. It’s that simple.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!