Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What about you? Parenting advice, you didn't ask for :0)

I watched America's Supernanny( not to be confused with Suppernanny with Jo) last night on Lifetime. Have you seen it? Well, she touched on the subject I want to write about this week. BEDTIME, I know, that is the longest "four letter word" in some households.
So the nanny, whose name I cannot recall, taught this family to use a "calm down corner" with their toddlers, whenever they misbehaved. I SHOULD MENTION THIS FAMILY HAD TWO- AND- A- HALF -YEAR- OLD, QUADRUPLETS, as well as two older children roughly 8 and 10. She instructed the parents to put the toddlers in bed, and when they got up, tell them "this is your warning, if you get out of bed again, you will sit in the calm down corner." Then when the child inevitably slid out of bed, they were placed in the calm down corner, located at the other side of the home, in the dining room. One by one the toddlers were placed in the calm down corner, each for 3 minutes. The time did not start until the child was seated and quiet. So needless to say all of the toddlers found themselves out of bed for an additional hour to nearly 3 hours. While I support the idea of a naughty spot, quiet corner, time out chair, reflection bench, calm down corner and so on, I don't think this is the most effective approach to training your child or children to stay in bed at napping and bed times.
I believe the best approach is, establish a bedtime routine followed by a consistent bedtime. Some think a child of a certain age should be in bed by a certain hour, I don't. Every family is different, as is every child. In our home we have a child who attends public school and therefore needs to be up and functioning by 6:30 am. Her routine is, after dinner 1: Brush her teeth and go potty. 2: lay out all clothes and shoes for school the next day, get my ok on the choice :0). 3: Gather backpack and all items needed in the back pack. 4: Pick up the mess in her room. 5: Choose a DVD, CD, or book. 6: Lay in bed and enjoy your choice from step 5. Lights out and t.v. off at 8pm. She is in 2nd grade. She knows that if she wants to have choices in step 5, she needs to be respectful and follow house rules during the day. When she moved in less than 2 months ago, she had never had a bedtime routine ( or at-least not one that was apparent). It took 2 weeks to get this routine established, and reminders are still needed as she is incredibly forgetful and easily distracted.

The same is true for the 5 year old and 2 year old, with minor tweaking on the steps. They have been a bit harder to train. The 5 year old will do just about anything for a sticker, candy or t.v. time, I learned this early on and us it to my advantage. Some frown on this calling it bribery or manipulation, I don't. I see it as motivation. How many adults do you know, who would go to work everyday if they knew there wouldn't be a paycheck? Children need a paycheck too. A tangible "thank-you". A poster board full of stickers to remind them of their good choices. I sweet treat for a job well done. Do I tell them if they do this then they can have that? Nope. I purposely reward children around them who are making the kind and obedient choices, I want them to make. "OH! Bobby! How wonderful. I love that you are waiting patiently, to use the bathroom. Hey let's put a sticker on you good choice chart! Way to go! Thank you soooo much (insert huge hug here)." Guess what? Children often follow suit when they see the reward others are getting! Don't tell them we know. It's our little secret. OK? Thank you so much ;0)

Oh! Sorry, I got a little off topic, didn't I?
What do I do when the children with little or no training won't stay in bed? The first time they get up I will say something like "Jimmy, it's sleeping time. Stay in bed. (hug)." As I pick them up and gently place them in bed. I say that in a very sweet sing song voice, regardless of the child's age. After that I do not speak. I simply scoop 'em up and place them in bed, over and over for how ever long it takes for the child to remain in bed and fall asleep. In the beginning this can take hours. Over time, it gets faster and faster, With foster kids it takes time to establish routine. This piece is one of the first things we put in place when the kids move in. It serves a couple of purposes beyond establishing a good sleep pattern. It also shows the children that you will not get angry and yell. You will not be rough or hurt them. It shows the children that you will follow through with routines because you love them enough to teach them how to behave. It likely says more to them, these are just my favorites.

It is often very challenging in the beginning, especially with older kids who have learned to spew all kinds of hateful words. I find if you can avoid eye contact, you are better off. if you have a cool-headed spouse to help that is great too! Most of all, it is important to remember that it will get better, if you stick to routine. Another tidbit, if there are more than one child misbehaving at a time, I have been known to say things like, "children who want a movie will get in bed and be quiet for 10 minutes, and I will turn on the t.v."  I require a good choice from them BEFORE I will give the reward. If you say "get in bed and I will tyurn on the t.v. they learn to scream or what not to get a reward.  Sometimes I say. "Bummer, I was gonna turn on Veggie Tales if you were in bed" (insert sad face) it all depends on the child and the situation.

What about you? How do you train a child to stay in bed?

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