My youngest daughter, age 3 1/2, has developed a very unpleasant night time routine. She won't stay in bed.
No matter what we do, what we say, how we react or don't react, she won't stay in bed at bedtime. It's like a mildly unruly boomerang that occasionally has tantrums. And this all started as I'm entering my busy period at work.
After about a month of spending 1-2 hours each night to get her to stay in her bed, it was time for some intervention. I thought about how she's motivated and one thing came to mind: chocolate.
I spent some time this past weekend coming up with a chart that she can use nightly. The chart consists of 7 things she does every night at bedtime. I used a cute font and lots of colors. As she finishes one task, she gets to put a check in the check box. These are the items on her checklist:
1.) Take bath or shower
2.) Get into PJ's
3.) Brush teeth
4.) Read stories
5.) Turn on nightlight
6.) Turn off bedside lamp
7.) Stay in bed
We leave the last one un-checked until morning. She has to stay in bed all night. If she does, she gets chocolate before breakfast (and by chocolate, she gets one M&M). It's enough to motivate her.
The first night in, no fights at bedtime. She was so happy to put checks in her check boxes. She didn't go to sleep right away, but she did stay in bed. Whoo hoo, but perhaps a bit too early to declare victory.
We also installed a child safety door knob cover on the inside of her bedroom door. This is where it goes sideways.
She got up out of bed at 11pm for whatever reason (perhaps to go to the bathroom as she recently stopped wearing diapers at night). I woke to crying, loud crying.
I went into her room and found her sitting next to her bedroom door and boy was she MAD. I won't go into the gory details, but it took an hour to get her calmed down and back into bed (took me another hour after that to get calmed down and back to sleep). She was not the least bit happy we installed the door knob cover on her door knob. We took away some of her independence, the independence she is displaying so proudly these days.
Let's see how we do tonight..