Do you find yourself laying next to your child for what seems like hours every night because that is the ONLY way you can get them to sleep? And once they finally fall asleep, are they are back in your room a few hours later trying to crawl into your bed?
Getting your child to fall asleep and stay asleep in their own bed can be an epic challenge.
Today, I’m going to let you in on a simple, science-backed intervention that we love to use to tackle some of these bedtime struggles…
The Bedtime Pass
The Bedtime Pass is a science-backed strategy that we use with families. It helps kids fall asleep alone, while feeling safe and secure in their own bed. It’s basically a get out of bed free card that you give to your child at night before bed.
The Bedtime Pass gives children the security they need, but provides them with boundaries to put a limit on those seemingly constant trips out of bed. Most importantly, it is a tool to teach your child to fall asleep without you having to lay next to them every night.
Below is an example of a pass we provide in our online ADHD parenting course, Creating Calm. You could also give your child a coupon, popsicle stick, or some other tangible object that they can take with them to bed.
We would recommend giving your child 3 bedtime passes to start. We want children to feel successful! You can then move to 1-2 passes per night.
Your child will take the passes to bed with them (my daughter liked to keep hers secure under her pillow). Each pass allows your child to get out of bed for a free hug, kiss, drink, or question.
Remember though, the contact that kids have with the pass should be brief. Once a pass is used, they have to give it to a parent for the rest of the night. No reusing passes (trust me, my kiddo tried this one!).
Once your child is out of passes, if they get out of bed again, they are walked back to the room, with no eye contact or words spoken. No matter how many times they get out of bed, just be consistent with no words or eye contact. Holding this boundary is essential for kids to learn the routine. Stay, calm, cool, and consistent.
Keep in mind, it may take several trips back and forth from the bed for your child to get the hang of this. And it can take a few days or weeks before your child adjusts to this process. Just know that with consistency, your child should get the hang of just using the passes and start to reduce those trips out of bed.
Pro-tip…offer your child a bonus!
If your child has any passes left in the morning, they can earn a reward of their choosing. This last tip will give your child a little extra incentive to stay in bed. Make sure to talk with your child about what fun activities or items they might want to earn, and try to make sure it is something they can earn as soon as they wake up in the morning. Remember, immediate consequences can be a powerful teaching tool!
I know what you’re thinking, this will never work. But let me tell you, after working with many families over the years (and my own child), I can safely say there is some strange and magical power in the Bedtime Pass. Kids will often hold onto their passes just in case they need it later in the night.
So if you are desperate for you and your child to get some better sleep at night, give it a try. And let us know how it goes!
Have a great week,
Lori, Katie, and Mallory