It is common for toddlers and preschoolers to test boundaries in all areas of life, but particularly around bedtime. Potty training can also cause some boundary pushing.
If night after night, your child is saying they have to go to the bathroom when it’s time for bed, and they already went during the routine, provide them with a “Potty Pass”. The “Potty Pass” is similar to a “hall pass” strategy. Your child will get one chance to use the pass and go to the bathroom, then all other requests will be denied.
If the potty isn’t the issue, you can create a “Bedtime Pass” to be used in the same way. Your child can exchange their bedtime pass for ONE extra request. It could be one more hug, an extra kiss, get a drink, ask a question, etc. Once the pass is used and turned in, they must stay in their bed until morning time.
Implementing the Bedtime Pass in your house:
- You can create a pass and print it or make your own and decorate it with your child. This can help them take ownership during the process. If you send me an email with “Bedtime Pass” as the subject, I will attach one for you to print (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Explain the purpose of the pass. Be sure they understand the pass can be used only ONCE to leave the room, OR if they call you to come to their room for a reason agreed upon beforehand: potty, drink, extra hug/kiss, or to ask a question.
- Make sure your child knows where the pass is kept in their bedroom.
- If your child uses the pass, they should give it to you to keep for the rest of the night. You will return it the next evening before bedtime.
- If your child wants to test out what happens once the pass is used, simply walk them back to their bed without saying anything and be as boring as possible!
Most likely, your child will test this new pass out for a few nights, then the novelty should wear off, and they will be more likely to eliminate the extra bedtime requests!