It’s bedtime, you tuck your preschooler into bed, give a kiss and walk into the hallway. However, you KNOW it’s not over yet. How many times will they get up before they ACTUALLY fall asleep? Or maybe you can’t even get out of the room before the excuses and complaints start.
“Mom, I have to go potty!” Even though they literally just went before they climbed into bed.
“Dad, I need a drink of water and I’m hungry and my stomach hurts” you full well know none of that is true.
“Mom, how come fish don’t blink?” or any other question you are completely happy to discuss with them when it is NOT bedtime.
“Dad, my leg hurts, I need a bandaid!” for my non-existant ouchy.
“I need a hug!” or 30.
Sound familiar? Believe me, I’ve been here before! In fact these are exact quotes from my 3 year old daughter. Here’s the good news, I have a way to end this. It is called, “Bedtime Passes” and works great with 3 year olds and older.
You can find them here: https://winterslumber.com/resources/
What is a bedtime pass?
A bedtime pass is exactly as it sounds. It is a pass to get an additional hug, kiss, or ask you a question. A pass to get out of bed or call for you. Your child can use one to three a night, this is totally up to you. Put them on their bedside table. If they call for you for any reason, or gets out of bed, a bedtime pass much be redeemed. Once all the passes have been used, they no longer should call for you to get out of bed.
Now, there are no consequences if your child continues to call for you after their passes have been used, rather bedtime passes are incentive based. But you can absolutely make a rule that if all their bedtime passes are used up you will no longer respond to them. Or just simply silently return them to their bed.
Bedtime passes give your child more “control” over bedtime. Which I will add, is something we should be doing with our toddler/preschooler in order to avoid the bedtime battles. Give choices in what pajamas they want to wear, what books they want to read, what song to sing, etc. Allowing them to feel in control helps so much!
Back to bedtime passes. My immediate thought was, “ya, ok, so we’re still in the same boat, she’s just going to use up those passes and then I’m back to ignoring her requests.” BUT research has shown kiddos who use these are more likely to stay in bed and call out less even though their passes give them permission to do the opposite. Crazy, right? It’s so true!
One thing I encourage parents to do to further incentivize their kiddo is to give them the ability to cash in, in the morning, any unused passes for a small reward/prize. Maybe an M&M per pass, or they can have a donut hole if they have all three passes unused. Again, this is up to you and knowing what would be exciting for your child!
Have at it! Print off your copy of bedtime passes here https://winterslumber.com/resources/ , give a quick explanation to your kiddo, maybe do a little practicing/ role playing during playtime, and start implementing at bedtime! And of course, as always, if you need further support or other recommendations do not hesitate to message me or set up a discovery call!