sleep, discipline, and other preschool things

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March 4, 2015 by Ellen V

Oh my Jane.

She has given us a run for our money the past few months.

Though I’m sure the new baby isn’t blameless, Jane’s misbehavior seems to stem from something she learned to do fairly late life: open a door.

Jane has always been this rockstar sleeper. Since she was a few months old, I read her a book, said a prayer, laid her in her crib, and shut the door. Anyone else could do it–a Papa or a grandparent or a sitter. She never fussed. Even a move from a crib to a bed, even a move from Wisconsin to Virginia didn’t seem to bother her. But in late November, during the worst possible weekend, she learned to open that dang door.

It’s been a downward spiral since then. Nights got later, mornings got earlier. As my sweet girl got more tired, the misbehavior increased. Then the night wakings started, too. We tried lots of things to help her sleep. We put her, silently, back to bed–through tears, sometimes a dozen times before she’d stay put. We gave her a banana or milk before bed, thinking maybe she was hungry. We tried a clock that glows green when she’s allowed to wake. They were all temporarily helpful, but nothing was sticking or solving the other all problem.

Explaining this to a friend a few weeks ago, I asked if she had any advice. She has four boys, well behaved but spirited, and I know she’s been through it all (and then some). Do you know what her advice was?

Lock her in.

I was shocked! She’s so sweet and patient and kind. I couldn’t imagine that she would lock her kids in their rooms! But she was insistent. Lock them in, open the door before you go to bed.

So I put a doorknob cover on the inside of Jane’s door. I showed it to her, and I told her it was to keep her safe at night. And you wouldn’t even believe what happened next…

She slept.

Life isn’t perfect. She is taking shorter naps now at her new preschool, and she often wakes before I’d like. But the night wakings have ceased and her misbehavior seems to be more in line with her age and character. Night time is rarely a battle. It’s such a relief.

And we’re trying some other things with that darn three-year-old misbehavior, by the way. We’re eliminating rewards, detaching treats or stickers from doing what she should. We’re replacing those with praise, which she seems to be more attracted to, anyway. Bad behavior, on the other hand, gets an immediate time out (if she needs to be removed from the situation) or a toy taken away (if that’s the more appropriate punishment). She’s also not allowed to whine. The fussing¬†drives Eric and I both crazy and certainly doesn’t help her overall mood. She doesn’t get consideration for her requests until she looks at the adult, says please, and uses a “big girl voice.” I’m not sure these things are working perfectly, but I do see progress, which I’m grateful for.

They are all so different, these little ones. I’m so grateful for the one I’ve got.

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