I haven't said much on this blog about the bedtime battles we've been facing for the last year, but that's mostly because I have a hard time sharing my failures and a much easier time sharing my successes. The problem here was that for an entire year, we seemed to be failing at bedtime.
When Gavin was a baby he was a great sleeper. People told us all the time how lucky we were. When he was still a year old, we moved him from his crib into a big boy bed with great success. He was excited about it, he stayed in it, he snuggled right down into the covers at night and went off to sleep.
Then, about a year ago, Gavin started getting out of his bed at bedtime. We had a consistent bedtime, a good routine, we did the same thing every night, we had quiet time before bed, we had a set amount of time that we would stay with him for prayers and talking quietly in the dark before we kissed him goodnight... and it suddenly quit working. We tried everything to get him to stay in his bed... everything. I mean everything.
We dealt with screaming, crying, sobbing, fighting, all of it. We tried giving rewards, taking things away that were important to him, talking through it, explaining, and even the silent treatment of repeatedly putting him back into bed without saying anything.
We've locked our own bedroom door and listened painfully to him screaming and kicking at our door. It has not been pretty. After an entire year of this, we were at our wit's end. We felt hopeless and helpless. We sought advice of people we had a lot of respect for as parents and teachers. Nothing worked.
We created a sticker chart with five days on it and explained to Gavin how it would work. Each night that he stayed in his room we would put a sticker on the chart. Each night that he came out of his room, we would remove all of the stickers from the chart. If he could get stickers on all five days, we would do something he wanted to do. He wanted to ride bumper cars. He didn't really know what bumper cars were, but Grandpa had told him about them, so we looked up some pictures and videos of bumper cars online to make sure that's what he really wanted.
The first couple of weeks failed. He couldn't do five nights in a row. Then, the third week, he did it. So, we took him to Como Town to ride bumper cars... and a lot of other rides! He loved it!
The fantastic bumper cars...
Sometimes you do what you gotta do. After the bumper cars, we sank really low. We gave him a tootsie-pop on the mornings after he had stayed in his room. Yes, a tootsie-pop for breakfast. He was quick to tell his dentist about that one too when we were in for his exam! I bet you can imagine the look I got. Thankfully our hygenist who has two grown children of her own, piped up and said "sometimes as a parent, you just do what you've gotta do"
Gavin is now on night 15 of our 15 night challenge to him to stay in his room. The reward this time is an "arm digger".
...and he's asleep!
So, onto the internet I go to search for the CORRECT arm digger. We learned from his birthday last year to be specific. When he has something in mind, he has something very specific in mind.