When my youngest son was six years old he developed an aversion to going to sleep at night. He said he was too scared to go to sleep and just couldn’t seem to relax, and since he couldn’t relax then I couldn’t either. He made sure of that!
Since he had never had a bedtime problem before, I thought it would just be one of those phases that would quickly pass. Well, it didn’t pass quickly enough for me. After a couple of weeks of him sneaking down the stairs, getting his eighth drink of water, or falling asleep on the bathroom floor (Eeeww!) I knew that I had to do something to help him feel more confident and relaxed at bedtime.
So, one night as I was tucking my son into bed I told him that if he was brave and stayed in bed all night long like he used to, that I would make up a poem for him about his accomplishment in the morning. I was really just grasping at straws here. Amazingly, it worked! He stayed in bed all night long, and first thing in the morning he asked for his poem.
I made up something silly and he loved it. I just spouted off something like:
Wow, you did it, you stayed in your bed. If I could manage, I would stand on my head. I would shout from the rooftops and spin on the floor until you started laughing and begging for more.
Well, it was just silly ramblings but he loved it. I did this for about a week, coming up with different funny poems every morning he went to bed without a problem. He did stay in bed every night thereafter, looking forward to my silly poems in the mornings. After about a week of that, I told him I was going to write him an official poem and print it out for him because now he has shown how brave he is and stays in bed every night.
This is what I wrote:
Jacob the Brave
I’ll call you by name
Since you found courage
Things haven’t been the same
No longer the boy
Who is scared in your head
Jacob the brave
Always stays in his bed
I am so proud of you
My Jacob the Brave
My courageous boy
Who has learned to behave
Love, Mommy xoxo
This just goes to show that you don’t have to reward your kids with candy or toys. You can use words. Simple words. Sometimes that’s all it takes.
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