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Study Offers Solution for Parents to Get Their Kids to Stay in Bed

July 21st, 2015     By Boys Town Contributor

Bedtime, Sleep

If you have kids between the ages of three and ten, you’re probably used to some sort of post-bedtime violation. “I need a glass of water!” is a common one. Or maybe it’s the three-year-old sneaking under mom and dad’s bed covers for a late-night snuggle.

For all sorts of reasons, kids often don’t like the idea of going to sleep. But this can be understandable. After all, in a child’s mind, sleep means saying goodbye to everyone he or she loves, and that can be a scary prospect. So it’s no wonder that many young kids hold out as long as possible before finally drifting off to dreamland.

The parenting experts at Boys Town conducted a study to see if there could be a simple way to reduce or even eliminate bedtime problems. What they came up with was both simple, effective, and fun.

The Bedtime Pass

The study’s participants were two normally developing male siblings, aged 3 and 10 years. Both children exhibited frequent crying out and leaving the bedroom after bedtime. The parents’ typical response to these bedtime problems was to ignore them or to issue a stern warning. Both parents agreed their strategies were ineffective.

As an alternative, the parents gave both children 5×7 inch cards with their names at the top. They then explained to the kids that these “bedtime passes” could be exchanged without penalty for one single visit out of their bedroom after bedtime. These visits had to be short and have a specific purpose – e.g. to obtain a drink, receive a hug, visit the bathroom, etc.

Once the pass was used, it had to be given to the parents until the following night. Any activity after the pass was used was either to be ignored, as with crying, or with a swift return of the child to the bedroom, conducted without eye contact or any other attention given (“the robotic return”).

The results were unambiguous. Providing the bedtime pass reduced instances of crying and coming out of the bedroom for both boys.

So if you’re having difficulties with your little ones’ bedtimes, think about employing the bedtime pass. Before you do, however, consider the following points:

• The pass seems to be most effective with kids between the ages of 3 and 10.
• It is best introduced at a neutral time (not at bedtime) and explained to your kids, so they know exactly what to expect.
• It is crucial that bedtime violations be dealt with dispassionately – ignoring crying and “robotically” returning interlopers to the bedroom.

We have taken these steps and other proven advice and built an email track on childhood sleep issues. Each email will give you information to understand your child’s sleep issues and the tools to help you address them. Click here to sign up.

Good luck… And let us know if it works by commenting on our Facebook page!

To view the study Click Here.

Download your own sleep pass here.

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