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  • Your Child Won't Stay in Bed at Night? Try This Trick Before Bedtime!

    All you need are a few index cards!
    by Kate Borbon .
Your Child Won't Stay in Bed at Night? Try This Trick Before Bedtime!
  • Bedtime can be challenging when you not only struggle to get the kids to bed but to make them stay in bed after you leave their room. If this is something you constantly deal with in your household, there’s a simple trick experts say may be effective for your family: Bedtime passes!

    According to Psychology Today, bedtime passes are effective in managing ‘callbacks’ and ‘curtain calls’ many kids like to do after being put to bed. Callbacks refer to requests children make when they ask their parents to come back to their rooms later in the night (such as an escorted trip to the bathroom), while curtain calls refer to their trips out of their bedroom to find Mom and Dad.

    Bedtime passes (also known as bedtime tickets) work like this: Every night, before bedtime, you give your child a pass or ticket (two at the most is the recommended). Grant the request the first time he asks to use the ticket whether for a callback or curtain call. If he wants to get out of bed again, he knows he has one last ticket, but he will think twice before using it. He knows he will be immediately walked back to the bedroom with no discussion when he has no more tickets.

    What other parents are reading

    In an article for his website, Dr. Alan Greene, a physician, author, TEDx speaker, and global health advocate, discusses one study that was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology in 2007. This study looked into 19 children whose sleeping habits were carefully monitored and measured. All these children would regularly cry, call out, or leave their rooms after bedtime.


    Half of the children were given bedtime passes, while the other half were not. The researchers found that the children who had been given bedtime passes called and cried out for their parents a lot less frequently than before, and the number of trips out of the bedroom dropped to almost zero. When the researchers checked in on the kids again three months later, the ticket system still worked.

    Meanwhile, the children who had not been given bedtime passes still tended to cry and call out, take longer to quiet down, and leave their rooms after they had been put to bed.

    What other parents are reading

    Interested to try this out? All you need to do is gather index cards, write one request to be granted on each card (late-night drink of water or a quick hug from Mom and Dad). Make your child part of the process even before you give him the ticket by letting them decorate the cards or asking him a request to be made in the card.

    Psychology Today reminds parents who decide to do the bedtime pass trick at home to remain consistent when you use bedtime tickets, especially if your child gets out of bed when he has run out of cards for the night. When this happens, just walk him back to bed quietly.

    Aside from being effective, the bedroom pass hack is great because it gives both you and your child a sense of control in a situation that can often get emotional or out of control. It makes your kids feel secure, and it offers you a way to discipline without the guilt.

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    Connie Schnoes, director of National Behavioral Health Dissemination at the Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health in Nebraska in the U.S., tells NPR, “You have a plan, as opposed to reacting each night, over and over.”

    Sounds like a great trick to try out, right? Tell us how it works for you at home!

    To read about expert tips on how to make sure your child gets enough sleep, click here.

    What other parents are reading

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