Q&A: Getting Kids to Stay in Their Beds?
Q: How do you get your kids to stay in their beds? Mine are continuously coming out until 10:00 some (a lot of) nights. So the time between 8:30 (when they go to bed) and 10:00 (when they finally fall asleep) is spent herding them back to bed, getting them drinks, laying down with them, etc.
A: Do whatever you do for any other disobedience.
If they normally would lose a privilege, then do that. “If you come out, you will not be able to ______ tomorrow.” And then remind them… “if you come out, what will happen?” (they should say the consequence) “What about if it’s for water?” (they should repeat the consequence) “What about if it’s to go potty?” (they should repeat the consequence) etc.
Or if you spank, or if you have them lose a toy, or whatever… whatever you do for normal disobedience, you should do here. This is teaching your children that you mean what you say.
Right now, (and I don’t mean this harshly; it’s just the truth) you have trained them that you don’t mean for them to stay in bed. You say “go to bed” and they think that means, “go get in bed until you think of a reason that mom and dad will let you get away with getting out of bed.”
You need to retrain them, and yourselves, by saying what you mean and then seeing to it that they obey.
Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. ~Proverbs 29:17
I know this may seem oversimplified, but it really is that simple. Pretty much all the time as parents, we are either teaching and reinforcing to our kids that we mean what we say, or we are teaching them that they can get around our instruction and authority if they come up with the right excuse.
By the way, even last year, our then-4-year-old was still testing us on this about once a month. He would get his normal consequence, and eventually, he learned to stay in bed. Now, a year later, he only get out of bed if he has to go potty (which he sees to himself), or is legitimately sick (that happens about 2-3 times a year at most).
WHAT ABOUT FEAR?!
For genuine fear, at around age 3-4 we start helping them memorize two verses:
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you”
“When I am afraid I will trust in You.”
So when they begin waking up with legitimate fears, we give them a good snuggle, help them recite their verses, and pray for them as we tuck them into bed. This whole process takes 3-5 minutes, tops, and with each child happens about 3-5 times before we remind them– “you can say your verses and pray to God and He will help you.” We want to teach them how to deal with fear, coach them through it, and then transfer their dependence to God Himself, so this process does not drag on and on.
HOW LONG DOES THIS TAKE?
I’m not saying we don’t ever have this come up… quite the opposite; each child tries it… and each time a child is ready to move to a big-boy bed, it’s time to start the training all over again.
Like almost every parenting issue, this is an ongoing training process, but training comes in jolts and spurts.
But I’ll tell you this- lest it sound like we’re always up and down dealing with this- for the VAST majority of evenings here in our home, we put the kids to bed and they stay in bed.
Doing the hard work on the front end of training makes for peace and quiet and restful times together as a couple in the evenings.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE: How do you see to it that your kids get in bed and stay in bed?
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