Pre-School

4yo bedtime help please!

My 4 1/2 yo has been horrific at bedtime and we are at our wits end trying to figure out what to do. 

The latest is in addition to the typical "i need a bandaid/tissue/pony tail/water/potty/different PJs".  Now, after we put her to bed calmly after her whole bedtime routine, she calls us back to her room for various requests and questions. We have her on a sticker chart and reward system.  She has a nightlight and music in her room.  We've tried to explain to her that we can't keep coming in there and that her calling is disturbing everyone in the house.  Nothing has seemed to work.  I don't know what to do.

Is our option to just not go in there at all?  Close the door (She insists on sleeping with the door open) and just let her scream her head off? But what do I do when she gets out of bed to come get us?

Any help is appreciated! TIA! 

Re: 4yo bedtime help please!

  • I would absolutely ignore her.  She's playing you big time.  We started something new this week.  30 min out from bedtime, we set a timer for 30 minutes.  All that needs doing needs doing before the timer goes off.  If she does PJs, teeth, potty quickly (she can ask for whatever help she wants), we have plenty of reading and snuggle time.  If she drags her feet, we have none.  She doesn't ever ask for extra stuff like you mentioned, but even before we started the timer thing I wouldn't go up for multiple requests.  She's not great with the concept of time, but she's getting that if she does what she's supposed to quickly, we have a nice time.  If not, we don't.  We're not to the point where she is quick, but this takes the stress of tucking her in multiple times away.  Bed time is firm not arbitrary, even if it's at a slightly different time each night.  
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  • You need to be more firm. Do the same routine of potty, pajamas, teeth brushing, sips of water, 2 books (or whatever number you want) and don't move away from that.

    Instead of a reward chart our 4 year old gets a privledge and for him, that's a cartoon the next morning. He'll yell for us to come back and make ridiculous requests (like leave the hallway light on) and we say "no" and if you call one more time you lose tv. He's lost tv a couple of times but it doesn't take much.  Also, if he starts lagging or making excuses delying getting ready for bed he loses a book or all books at bedtime. That seems to do the trick too.

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  • I wanted to add that I personally don't like reward charts. I think for kids that age they need more instant gratification (or punishment) and a reward chart (after the novelty of putting up stickers wears off) is for something that's in the future that I don't think they can fully grasp at that age.
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  • image AZ123:
    I wanted to add that I personally don't like reward charts. I think for kids that age they need more instant gratification (or punishment) and a reward chart (after the novelty of putting up stickers wears off) is for something that's in the future that I don't think they can fully grasp at that age.

    I agree with this.  Reward charts are better for older kids (even middle school kids do well with this method if you call it "goal-setting" and ditch the stickers!)

    A 4 y/o needs firm, consistent, immediate action.  You need to stop going to her and show her you mean business.  She's playing you like a cheap fiddle.  She cries?  Tough.  No one ever died of crying because they needed a different ponytail before going to sleep.

    If I were you, I'd tell her that she's welcome to handle any of these problems on her own as long as she is quiet.  Supply her ahead of time with a 2nd set of pjs, a water bottle, a pile of hair scrunchies, a book, and her own lamp and let her work it out without involving you.  It's your attention she's after, not the ponytail or the water.  When you let her know you're not going to play this game anymore, she'll settle down and sleep like a champ.

    Secondary English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 8th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 3rd grade
  • i wanted to add in addition to pp suggestions. if she comes out of her room you go and tell her she needs to stay in her room. hold her hand and bring her back in her room. if she contin.ues dont say anything and dont make eye contact. you can even add at the first redirection if she continues she will lose xyz. it may take a night or two but she needs to know and see you will follow through otherwise it wont work.
  • at this age, i wont just lock the door or let her scream her head off.  and no reward or punishment will work for her at bedtime, she just doesn't care (probably cuz she's tired, we all are, and not exactly being logical).  so we were really happy when we found this Bedtime Pass idea... this woman's blog is fantastic, she's a Behavior Analyst who spoke to a mom's group i'm in and we all loved pretty much everything.  :)  My DD made her bedtime pass with me, it's all glittery and special to her, and after she uses it that is it.  it has been the most amazing thing for our family, i couldn't recommend it more!!!!

     

    ETA: the bedtime pass idea is basically just like the Supernanny's Stay in Bed Technique.  only real difference is you make a physical pass that they hand to you.

  • image WiggleBaby:

    at this age, i wont just lock the door or let her scream her head off.  and no reward or punishment will work for her at bedtime, she just doesn't care (probably cuz she's tired, we all are, and not exactly being logical).  so we were really happy when we found this Bedtime Pass idea... this woman's blog is fantastic, she's a Behavior Analyst who spoke to a mom's group i'm in and we all loved pretty much everything.  :)  My DD made her bedtime pass with me, it's all glittery and special to her, and after she uses it that is it.  it has been the most amazing thing for our family, i couldn't recommend it more!!!!

     

    ETA: the bedtime pass idea is basically just like the Supernanny's Stay in Bed Technique.  only real difference is you make a physical pass that they hand to you.

     This. I am going to implement the Bedtime Pass for my 4 yo as well. I think it's a great idea.  

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  • image kmhunt11:
    I would absolutely ignore her.  She's playing you big time.  We started something new this week.  30 min out from bedtime, we set a timer for 30 minutes.  All that needs doing needs doing before the timer goes off.  If she does PJs, teeth, potty quickly (she can ask for whatever help she wants), we have plenty of reading and snuggle time.  If she drags her feet, we have none.  She doesn't ever ask for extra stuff like you mentioned, but even before we started the timer thing I wouldn't go up for multiple requests.  She's not great with the concept of time, but she's getting that if she does what she's supposed to quickly, we have a nice time.  If not, we don't.  We're not to the point where she is quick, but this takes the stress of tucking her in multiple times away.  Bed time is firm not arbitrary, even if it's at a slightly different time each night.  

    I think this timer idea is rather brilliant. Having something it physically track the time and then ring when the time is up is something I think my DD would understand. It's already helped having a set time she needs to be ready to leave in the morning, if she wants Mommy to take her into preschool. Otherwise Daddy will take her. (I'm surprised this is actually a motivation for her. :))

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  • Both of my kids sometimes get out of bed, and it is annoying particularly if we are doing something afterward. I find if I am rushing to do something afterward, they feel that and then get unsettled. I try to take my time with our routine, and they each get 1 get up, then there is a consequence. Dd2 likes the door to be cracked and not closed, so if she gets up, she can ask for whatever, but then the response is stay in bed, or the door gets closed. 

    After they get up, I try to remember that they may not be tired at bed time, so our rule is, bedtime = stay in bed with the lights off but you can have music, book, toy or light show as long as you are in bed and quiet. If they aren't in bed or quiet they loose whatever it is. Dd1 can get up and go potty, but she knows not to bother us.

    I have developed a mommy's not on call theory, I'm your mommy from x-y time, this is mommy time and it is your bedtime. Also, I tell them that mommy will come back and check on them/kiss them/what have you later. If you get out of bed, mommy doesn't come back.

    They both have sippies of water by their beds too. Every once in a while dd2 will call for me or come out and ask for water, and I laugh and walk her back in and show her the water.

    My dd1 went through a really bad hopping out of bed period about the time she dropped the nap. A nap= not sleeping until 9:30-10 but she would be cranky in the afternoon without it. The quiet time and slightly earlier bed time during that period helped. We also did a decreasing attention during that stage. Bedtime= bath, teeth, stories, poem, pray, song with back rub, kiss, and music box and the way out.

    If she got out of bed, then she got tucked back in with song/back rub, kiss, music box on the way out. Then if she got out again, I would tell her if she went and got in bed, with eyes closed she would get a kiss and music box, then if she got out, it was just music box, then if she got out again, it was just the door getting closed behind her and I said nothing. After a night or two, she clearly decided that she preferred the loving tuck in, rather than the dead stare and pointing to the bed and the door being shut. During the phase, I tried not to have any negative emotion at all, no anger or frustration. There was love and attention, then there wasn't.

    She got upset about it the first night and I calmly said that it was past her bedtime, mommy had done x.y.z. and that it was time for bed and mommy was all done. I encouraged her to come cuddle with me in the morning.  

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