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How to Keep Preschoolers in Bed at Bedtime

April 16th, 2008 · 8 Comments


I do not know about you but sometimes our children have trouble staying in bed at night. Since our twins sleep in the same room, they tend feed off each other.  BusyBoy gets out of bed and then GigglyGirl must get up with him.  I answer a question, which is usually giving permission to go to the potty and back to bed they go – at least after going to the potty.  A couple of minutes later GigglyGirl gets out of bed and BusyBoy gets up with her.  I answer a question, which is usually blowing a kiss to her imagined boo-boo and back to bed they go. 

Several months ago, growing weary of this routine, we implemented a new step in our nightly routine that has worked wonders for keeping our preschool twins in bed once we tuck them in at night.  The step?  Simply giving them one extra story before going to sleep. 

Try this tip for moms.  Give your child a “bonus” book the night after your child stays in bed after being tucked in.  At first I started this with candy then quickly moved to a book.  I said, “If you stay in bed tonight and do not talk to each other, you will get a piece of candy in the morning after breakfast.  You may quietly read your books until you go to sleep but that is all.” 

My children thought about it and BusyBoy asked, “What if we need to go to the potty?”

I said, “You can go to the bathroom and then get back in your bed.  Do not come tell me you need to go potty.  Just go and then get back in bed.”

To which GigglyGirl replied, “Well, what if we need to vomit?”

I put a rubbermaid box next to each of their beds and said, “If you need to vomit, call for me.  Here is a box in case you need it before I get in here.” 

They were thinking for a second or two seeming to digest this new system.  Next GigglyGirl asked, “Well, what if we get hurt?”

“If you just bump yourself and are not bleeding, then stay in bed and do not cry.  You do not need to cry unless you are really hurt and bleeding.  If you are bleeding, you can get out of bed to get Daddy or me.” 

GigglyGirl then said, “So, we stay in bed unless we need to go potty.  Or unless we need to vomit.  Or unless we bleed?”

“Yes.  Can you guys do this?”

They both agreed that they could.  I left the room and did not hear a peep out of them.  The next morning they woke up and BusyBoy eagerly asked “Are we getting candy for dessert after breakfast?”  They got to halve a pack of smarties.

I did this with candy for 1 week.  Then I switched to a chapter book.  I will read one chapter of this book to you tomorrow night as long as you stay in bed tonight.  That worked well.  Now, the step has evolved slightly.  The person whose day it is picks out the third bonus book (one book that each child picks out plus the bonus book). 

Every night I remind them that they get the extra book if they stay in bed.  Every night, GigglyGirl reminds me of the loop holes to the rule, “Unless we need to go potty.  Unless we need to vomit.  And, unless we bleed.  Right, Mommy?

“Right GigglyGirl.”  She will make a good politician because she creates loopholes in the rules.

What works for you in your home?  Do you have any strategies that work for keeping your children in bed without the endless stream of getting out of bed post bedtime?  Leave a comment and let me know. 

You may also find a couple of GigglyGirl’s other conversations humorous when she tries to make her twin brother cry and when she reminds us how old they are.  Finally, be sure to check out Shannon‘s site for other Works for Me Wednesday participants. 

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Tags: Works for Me Wendesday

8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Duncan Bachen // Apr 16, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Good insight. Thanks for sharing it with us. We’re just getting ready to move our twins outta their cribs and into real beds, so we’ll be having these same situations real soon I’m sure.

  • 2 SAHMmy Says // Apr 16, 2008 at 10:36 am

    We’ve tried many many things to keep our 4 year old in bed–love your idea for an extra story the next night after he obeys! Our current rule is that if he gets up he has to go to bed at the same time as his baby sister (half hour earlier) the next night. He loves being the big boy, spending alone time with Mommy and Daddy, so this usually works.

  • 3 Kerry // Apr 16, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    When my older kids were little and Hubby was working in another state (and I was pregnant and tired and whinny) I would offer then ice cream for breakfast if they went to bed good. I figured it was no worse than most cereals, and if your kids are going to load up on sugar what better time than first thing in the morning? They LOVED it. In fact just the other day they asked about it, and wondered if they needed to start misbehaving at bedtime so they could then be good for ice cream! :)

  • 4 Debbie // Apr 16, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    Good idea! My issue is not staying in bed at night, but the 3 year old crawling into my bed sometime between 3 and 5 am. I keep reminding him before bed to NOT do that, but he continues. :/

  • 5 Col @ gigablonde :: things to do in ny when you're [not] dead // Apr 16, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    This is GREAT! :) My ex boyfriend’s nephew, when asked not to disturb me because I was sick, kept coming in and asking questions like that … “what if the dog barks” … “what if I’m crying?” … that was the one thing he was allowed to disturb me for , if he was upset … so two seconds after the question, he exits and then re-enters the room, “I’m crying!”

  • 6 We are THAT family // Apr 17, 2008 at 9:47 am

    That’s a great idea. We do something sorta like that and it works-most nights!

  • 7 Sarah // Apr 17, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    Oh my goodness! We have had such a time with our 5 year old preschooler! It was most nights until 10 for a while and we are NOT softies about it either! I finally removed the bright night light from his room and replaced it with a much dimmer one and it was through some pretty heart wrenching scrams and sobs that we discovered that he was afraid of the dark! And here we thought that ended at 3 with the brighter night light! Uh, no. Here is the long story of it all and what we did:

    I am liking your idea though too as he is a big lover of books… I’ll be trying it! Thank you!

  • 8 Sheri // Apr 30, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    Love your blog!!!

    Sheris last blog post..American Idol seems to have Jesus