Are you sure you're ready?
Okay. Here goes.
Okay... after over a year of MAJOR bedtime battles, we have now had 47 consecutive days of nearly perfect bedtimes. Whew! I said it.
What's better than that? It's not even an issue anymore - we seem to have actually broken the bad bedtime habit. I'm crossing my fingers right now because I'm afraid as I type each word that I'm undoing it all just by saying it out loud. Eek!
So, the full story is this...
Gavin wanted a dirtbike. We have motorcycles at our house and he loves to ride in our side car, but he talks about riding his own bike all the time. So he already has the motorcycling bug... and then we took him to the Motorcross races at our county fairgrounds at the end of July. He loved seeing all of the dirtbikers racing around the track, flying through the air as they launched over the jumps!
Then half-way through the races, the pee-wees came out. These are the 4 - 6 yr olds on the little bikes. When Gavin realized some of these kids were 4 years old, and he is almost 4 years old, he was set on riding a dirtbike. Throughout the races, Gavin was pointing out which bikes he liked the best, what color he wanted, etc. The second and third kids in the pic below had both crashed and there are people who actually pick up their bikes for them and get them running again.
Gavin LOVED watching the dirtbikes! He was all smiles all night long. He was SO in to it.
Ever since that day in July, Gavin didn't stop thinking about or talking about dirtbikes. What color he wanted, what make he wanted, where he would ride, what kind of helmet he would have, what his boots would look like, etc. He was nearly obsessed.
The truth is that Cliff had been wanting to get him a dirtbike and we had talked about it over and over and I stood my ground that he was too young. I told Gavin that we'd talk about it again in the spring - that we wouldn't even consider it until he was 4 years old. We had initially told him that he had to learn to ride a bicycle without training wheels before he could ride a dirtbike. It sure didn't take him long to learn how to do that! He started riding a bicycle with training wheels last February. Then by early July, he was riding with no training wheels!
Then Cliff came across the kind of dirtbike he wanted to get Gavin.
Then we got really desperate with our bedtime struggles.
Then we decided we'd use the idea of getting a dirtbike as motivation (a.k.a. bribery) to help keep Gavin in his bed.
We decided we'd start by offering him safety gear for dirtbiking, knowing that eventually he'd have a dirtbike and he would need safety gear.
So, we created a bedtime chart. It was 30 boxes total - five columns and six rows. At the end of each row of five nights, was a picture of a piece of dirtbike safety gear: gloves, helmet, chest protector, racing pants, boots, etc. At the end of the very last row, was a picture of a dirtbike. We really didn't figure it would work - afterall, we had done bedtime charts and rewards before.
We certainly didn't believe Gavin would be able to do 30 nights, or even 5 nights consecutively, since he had such a hard time doing that to earn the bumper car ride, and that hadn't lasted after the reward was given. To help keep his interest, we also offered a small daily reward. I picked up an old wooden "treasure chest" from a thrift store for $6 and filled it 4-5 little trinkets at a time, let him choose one each morning that he had gone to bed nicely, and then put another item or two in for the next morning, so he always had a choice, but the "inventory" was not always the same. The trinkets were a combination of some dollar store items, some Goodwill items, and some little freebies we had come across. It contained things such as coloring books, matchbox cars, plastic figures of dinosaurs and dragons, glitter glue, markers, craft kits, McDonald's happy meal toys, and sweet treats like Cracker Jack caramel corn and even a couple of brightly colored lollipops.
You know what? He made it 5 nights in a row and earned a pair of motorcycle gloves. He did it the next five nights in a row and he earned another piece of safety gear... and another, and another. When he earned the motorcycle gloves, he wore them to ride his bicycle. When he earned his helmet, he kept it on the bookshelf next to his bed so he could go to sleep looking at it and it would be the first thing he saw when he opened his eyes in the morning. He put the helmet on each morning before coming into our bedroom to wake us up in the morning. It was the cutest thing ever. ... and it was working! In five weeks, he was all decked out!
So... as Gavin neared the final row on his bedtime chart, we realized we were going to owe him a dirtbike. Cliff may have actually had more confidence in this whole plan working than I did, because I really didn't think we'd be buying a dirtbike for our THREE year old.
Yet, here we were. Cliff did a lot of research on the options for a youth 50cc dirtbike and we talked about what was important to each of us. Of course our #1 priority was Gavin's safety, so we wanted a bike that was low to the ground so that when he tipped over he didn't have as far to fall. We wanted one with a low center of gravity so it was less tippy. We wanted an adjustable throttle so we could control how fast he could go and then give him a little more power as he got older and became more comfortable. We chose a blue Yamaha PW50 that Cliff had found locally for a good price via Craig's List.
Cliff picked it up and stored it for a couple of weeks until Gavin had really earned it. We knew we could always take away the priveledge of riding it if he started having trouble staying in his room at bedtime again.
Cliff took a Friday off work, and surprised Gavin with the dirtbike. Cliff had a whole plan for how it was going to go down. The face on that sweet, excited little boy when he saw his new dirtbike was priceless!!!
...to be continued...