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My child leaves the room after I put them to bed

Bedtime Battlers might resist going to bed, struggle to fall asleep, and often get up or call out. But once they’re asleep, they usually stay asleep. To smooth out bedtime, setting clear rules and sticking to them is key. Let your child know these rules well ahead of bedtime in a quick chat, without room for debate. This way, they’ll know exactly what to expect, making bedtime easier for everyone!

Free helpful sleep strategies

  • Bedtime Pass

    Making a Bedtime Pass may be helpful for children who have difficulty staying in their bedrooms or call out frequently. Your child can use their Bedtime Pass for one trip out of their room or one visit from you after you have said “Goodnight.”

    Explain the bedtime pass to your child

    • Sit down with your child and explain what you are going to do.
    • Explain that your child is having difficulty going to sleep on his or her own and that you have come up with an idea of how to help (for example, “I know it’s hard for you to go to sleep, so I have thought of an idea for you”).
    • Explain the strategy – say, “You and I will make a pass for you to use every night. You will get one pass per night. After Mum or Dad has put you to bed, you can use the pass for one free trip out of the room for a reason, such as if you want to give Mum or Dad one last hug or you need a drink. If you use the pass, you must give it to Mum or Dad and go straight back to bed”. Stress that it needs to be a short, specific reason (5 minutes or less).
    • Explain what happens after the child has used the pass, such as, “After you use your pass, you need to go back to bed and stay there for the rest of the night.”

    With any relaxation technique, it is best to be taught when not stressed. You and your child should then make the pass. As long as the pass is sturdy, you can use cardboard or note cards cut to about the size of a small photograph. Allow your child to colour in or write on the pass to make it their own.

    At bedtime

    Before bed, hand the pass to your child and remind them of its purpose. Follow your typical bedtime routine and then leave the room. If your child asks to use the pass, allow this and then take the pass. Please send your child back to bed and remind him or her that it is time to stay in the room and be quiet. For the first few nights when you are using the pass, please remind your child of the rules for using the pass, give them the pass, and follow the same routine.

    What if my child calls out or comes out of their room AFTER using the pass?

    • If they call out, Ignore this behaviour – even if it worsens.
    • If they come out, Take them back to bed with no or little talking.

    Rewards

    Remember to reward your child for being able to use the bedtime pass and stay in their room after that. Rewarding good behaviour in the morning can really motivate a child to improve. Rewards work best when given soon after the behaviour, not after a few days. See the Rewards strategy for more ideas.

  • Putting Worries to Bed

    It is not unusual for children to have worries or fears at night time. Helping them overcome their night time worries teaches them skills they can use in other areas. Here are some creative strategies that can help your child feel like the worries are being taken care of so they no longer need to be in their mind. Planning this ahead of time and talking about it during the day, when they feel confident, will help them feel confident at night.

    Build a worry box

    This is a popular strategy. Your child draws or writes about his worries during the day, and thinks or talks about possible solutions. Before bedtime, he puts the drawings in the box, and leaves them to think about tomorrow. For some children this helps their particular worry go away completely.

    Build a monster trap

    If your child is worried about monsters , you build a monster trap with them. This can be talked about and set up during the day and is a way of making the child feel safe. Be creative with it.

    A guardian dragon or guardian fairy

    A special ‘fairy’ or protective ‘dragon’ is a way of using a child’s imagination in a helpful way. The fairy or dragon looks after them and takes away their worries.

  • Rewards

    Rewards can motivate a child to improve their behaviour. They work best if given soon after the behaviour, not after a few days. After a couple of weeks, they may not work as well, but by then, you hope your child’s behaviour has improved! Reward charts are appropriate for children three years and over.

    Set up the chart

    • Create it: You can choose from lots of different styles of charts, or make one yourself. Older children might like to create their chart, perhaps with a drawing or photo of the reward they’re trying to earn. You can also download free charts from the internet. E.g. try searching for “reward charts to colour in.”
    • Place it: Put the chart where your child can see it. Remember that your older child might prefer a private spot – for example, his bedroom, instead of on the fridge.

     

     

    Rewards can motivate a child to improve their behaviour. They work best if given after the behaviour, not after a few days. After a couple of weeks, they may not work either, but by then, you hope your child’s behaviour has improved! Reward charts are appropriate for children three years and over.

    Set up the chart

    • Decide which stickers or tokens to use: star stickers work well for younger children, whereas older kids might like points or other markers.
    • Keep rewards small and cheap, e.g., stickers, stamps. It is not necessary for rewards to be expensive, but rather a small symbol that you are happy with your child’s behaviour.
    • Choose short-term rewards: Most children start by liking the idea of collecting stickers or tokens, but the novelty can wear off quite quickly. When this happens, swapping the stickers or tokens for short-term rewards can help them keep their eyes on the main prize. You could let your child choose from a range of objects, events and activities – for example, getting to choose an activity for special time with mum or dad, e.g. a trip to the park, a family bike ride, going to the swimming pool, or watching a favourite movie (but not just before bed!).
    • Try not to make food the reward
    • You can build on rewards, e.g. 4 stickers = a lucky dip (remember to keep the prizes small and cheap), a park trip, or a DVD choice after dinner.

    Rewarding your child

    • Choose the behaviour you want to encourage: Use clear and positive descriptions, and talk with your child about the behaviour you want to see.
    • Increase your child’s chance of success to begin with: Make sure your child has a chance to get a few rewards over the first few days. For example, at first, you may reward them for staying in their room at the start of the night. Once they can do this, you may reward them only if they remain in their room all night.
    • Give the reward as soon as possible after the excellent behaviour, e.g., first thing in the morning. Some specific praise should remind your child why she’s getting a sticker or token. For example, “I like the way you stayed in your bed the whole night. Here is a star for your chart.”
    • NEVER take away a reward: If your child has earned it, they keep it! If your child doesn’t earn a star, just move on. Focus on encouraging your child to try again.

Or get started with Kips free Ebook

Struggling with kids' bedtime woes or early wake-ups? Kip's Sleep Strategies are here to help! These expert-approved tips and a bit of magic will make bedtime a breeze, ensuring everyone gets the restful sleep they need. Ready to turn those tough nights into dreams come true and joyful mornings? Let's start this journey together!

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