Use Bedtime Passes When a Child Won’t Stay in Bed

It sounds backwards, but it's working. My daughter is learning to stay in bed because she gets two passes a week to get out of bed after bedtime. FREE printable.My 4-year-old daughter won’t stay in bed at night. Our bedtime routine helps. But to me it seems that she is perpetually tired. She is such an active girl she does not want to stop moving for one minute. This means she is awake as soon as she can be (usually around 6 but sometimes I’m lucky and it’s a little later) and it is a struggle to get her to slow down for bedtime.

So even after bedtime, there is no guarantee she’ll stay there. Regularly, I’ll be downstairs an hour after bedtime, reading a book or watching a show with my husband, and she’ll come downstairs for a hug and kiss or to plead for us to come tuck her in again. I call it “bouncing.”

I have felt increasingly frustrated, because my husband (who has not been home all day), sometimes lets her sit with him for a few minutes before he tells her to scoot upstairs.

“You’re just reinforcing her habit of bouncing out of bed!” I’ll say.

His response is often,”Oh, sometimes you need to give her a pass.”

I did not quite feel she did need a pass. Isn’t she just being stubborn? Wouldn’t letting kids get out of bed after bedtime teach them that it is okay to do it? It seemed to go against logic.

Yet, as I browsed for ideas for getting a difficult child to stay in their room, I found a post about using bedtime passes and I started thinking that maybe there was some logic in this. Giving a little one a “pass” at times will help her understand the need to stay in bed on the regular days. I needed to put the choice back in her hands so I was no longer trying to control her.

What is a Bedtime Pass?

The idea of a bedtime pass is that we give the child a choice in the matter: sometimes they can “bounce” out of bed for an extra hug and kiss. Sometimes our kids will want to be tucked in again. But they need to learn that it should not be an every night occurrence.

I could not find a printable that I liked for my daughter, so I had to make my own. I made a few different options so she can choose two different passes each week if she wishes.Use bedtime passes to teach kids that after bedtime they are supposed to stay in bed. FREE printable.

Our first week, she was so excited about the bedtime pass that she used them both in one night.

“I just want to get another hug! Will you tuck me in again?” she pleaded, twice that first night.

Last night, she said she waited a long time to come down.

She said, “I didn’t want to use my pass but then I did.”

She loves that she can choose to use it. Or not. How much does she really want to get out of bed?

She knows they are limited, and we’ve talked about how we’ll have a consequence if she comes out without having any passes left. We’ll see how it goes in a longer term.

Using a Bedtime Pass

In this beginning, I plan to give her two passes a week, as I’m doing now. In a month or two, I’ll change it to one pass a week. And hopefully, by her next birthday she won’t need any! But I’m not holding my breath. This is a girl that just thrives on company, hugs, kisses, movement, action, and so forth.

I give two enticing "tickets" each week, which allow her to come out of bed after bedtime. Now she is more in control of the bedtime routine, and she's learning that she is supposed to stay in bed.

After all, I do love to give her extra hugs and kisses, I really do. I just also want to teach her that bedtime is bedtime.

I am glad that my husband had the idea to give her a pass every now and then. I honestly did not think this was an idea that worked.

Would you like to try using Bedtime Passes in your home?

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