Are you wondering how to get your kid to sleep?
That’s what we’ll talk about today at Parenting Cents.
So one of the most common things that parents get concerned about is “how to get their kids to Whatever______”,
I mean you can fill in the blanks here.
Now notice something, usually the things that concern a parent the most are things that they don’t experience a lot of control over, right?
How to get your kid to sleep or to eat or to stop crying or stop whining or begging.
Okay, these are all things that parents don’t have a lot of control over because the kid controls it.
So we’re going to go back to a basic concept first off and then I’ll give you some practical ideas a little later in this article. but let’s go to the philosophy first, control battles. What are we going to do about these control battles?
I have three rules for you.
Rule 1:- Avoid power struggles.
Don’t get into a control battle if you don’t have to, alright?
I think you have to decide before you march up some hill whether you’re willing to die on that hill and I know that’s melodramatic. But think about picking your battles very carefully. There’s a whole lot of things you don’t need to get into a control battle over.
So consider that first, avoid them.
Rule 2:- If you can’t avoid them, win them.
if you can’t avoid them, win them, alright? I got your back on this. I want you to win whatever control battle you get into and incidentally if I’m talking to kids, I tell them the same thing.
I’m sorry, parents, but I’m telling kids also, don’t get into a control battle with your parents that you can’t win. They don’t even need that much help with it because kids naturally know this rule and they won’t get into a struggle with you over something that they can’t win. Interesting!!!
Let’s use that to our advantage, okay?
So we got two rules so far, avoid them, not your kids, the power struggles, okay? Avoid the power struggles, don’t get into them if you don’t have to. Number two, if you do get into a power struggle, make sure that you win it.
Rule 3:- You do that by picking the issues
You pick the issues and this way, you can always pick something that you control. You’re with me?
So that will help enormously. You always want to give your child two choices, alright? You want to give them two choices and you as a parent, are okay with either one. Why is that important? Because it’s a control thing, right? Give them two choices, you’re okay with either one and you control one of them. Now that’s important because that one becomes default.
Sometimes when we give our kids two choices, they want to pick door number three, right? Something that wasn’t even on the list to start with. So you’re going to give them two choices you’re okay with either one and you control one of them because that one becomes default and if they choose not to choose or if they try to pick door number three, then they just picked this one, the one that you control.
Okay, so you’ve got the rules for a control battle and we’ve reviewed this strategy about give them two choices, you’re okay with either one, you control one of those.
Also Read:- WHAT IS ANTISOCIAL PERSONALITY DISORDER?
How do you get your child to sleep or to eat or to do one of these other things that’s in their control?
Now let’s go back to our topic. How do you get your kids to sleep or to eat or to do one of these other things that’s in their control, not yours?
Sleeping for example, this is something that kids control, you cannot make a child sleep, they get to choose if they’re going to avoid it or resist it, have you noticed?
So this is something that’s in their control which is partially and I say partially because sleep is one of those things that’s going to happen eventually. They can’t stay awake forever.
So when you choose to engage with your child on this, you want to give them two choices that you’re okay with. And you control one of them, go to sleep or not go to sleep or
not the two choices we’re talking about, okay? Because you don’t control that and maybe you’re not okay with with one or the other.
so let’s just set this up in a scenario.
Your child is resisting going to sleep, okay? you give them a choice.
If you are quiet and I don’t hear you and the lights are off, then the door can be opened. If I can hear you then the door will be closed. A lot of kids want to have the door open. Are you okay with either way? Sure you are. Which one do you control? Yeah, you control whether it’s open or closed or not.
So they can choose by their behavior. Now think about it, if they’re quiet and they’re peacefully lying there in their bed, do you care if they’re sleeping?
Now honestly, I mean get to the core of that because if you really still care about it then maybe you are control freaking. Be clear about what your preference is but then acknowledge that you don’t control it and give them the choice.
Now here’s a couple of things that can help with the sleep, having a routine in place is often very helpful so it’s not just you know, we’re doing all of our stuff and then boom!, it’s time you go to bed.
No, you have some kind of a routine that the child can reasonably anticipate and prepare for the sleep experience whether they sleep or not is up to them we’ve already talked about that. But what if you have a routine and most parents do.
You know, where you do the tooth brushing and you do get on the PJ’s and you do the bedtime story and you’ve got some kind of a routine that’s reasonably consistent and that child knows, oh, this is preparing us for at the end of this routine, it is sleep time, meaning quiet time, peaceful time, lights out time, whether they sleep or not is up to them. We’re just going to relinquish control over the sleep, okay.
It will happen but we’ll create the biggest opportunity and potential for that to happen through the routine. I would highly recommend that this routine is something that is pleasant that everyone anticipates with some level of not excitement so much but a kind of a peaceful anticipation if you can get behind that kind of an idea, where it’s setting the stage for the sleep to happen.
Now remember at this point, we’re not going to get into a power struggle over whether they’re sleeping or not so don’t get into this trap of go to sleep, it’s time to go to sleep. In fact, as you do that, it makes it less likely that they’re going to go to sleep because they’re engaging in this power struggle that they can win so we completely get away from that.
Give them two choices, you can go to sleep or not go to sleep, either way is okay with me. If you’re quiet and peaceful and the lights are out and I can’t hear you, then we’ll leave the door open like you prefer it. If I can hear you, we’re going to close that door.
Now a little note about consistency, okay. I was in Las Vegas for a conference not too long ago and you know how those Las Vegas hotels have these big casinos and people are in there putting coins into slot machines all day long. If someone puts a coin into a slot machine and nothing happens, what do they do next? They put another coin in. Why?
Because sometimes that thing will pay off. This is what we call in behavioral psychology, an intermittent schedule of reinforcement, it actually increases the person’s behavior so if they don’t get what they want, they just try again and they just try again and they just try again.
Have you ever seen somebody at a vending machine? A whole different machine, right. A vending machine that doesn’t give them what they want. What do they do next? They don’t put another quarter in, they go complain to the management because this thing’s broken, right?
Think about the difference of behavior between the slot machine and a vending machine, which one have been with your kids?
And if they continuously test you and try you, it maybe that because in the past, you were more of a slot machine and sometimes you pay off and sometimes you don’t and sometimes you pay off. So they’re going to keep playing you as the case were. To be consistent is more like the vending machine and so when they try to get what they want and you don’t pay them off, they’re like, oh, guess that doesn’t work.
Totally different response. We’ll write some other Articles about the consistency and how to establish that as a parent but hopefully those ideas will get you going on. How to get your childs to sleep.
So there you have it, some of these things we really don’t control very much but hopefully that gives you a few pointers.
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