Tuesday, February 16, 2010

bed time routine, helicopter parenting gone very wrong

An anonymous mother posted a cry for help on an online parent chat forum about bed-time routines gone wrong:
"We have very good bedtime routines for our 5 year old boy. Massage, TV for 5 minutes and then we take him to his bedroom (we all share the same bedroom). We ask him if he'd like one of us to stay with him until he falls asleep, but he doesn't want to, and we allow him to stay in the bedroom alone and play until he gets tired. When that happens, he gets to go to bed by himself (I can see the bedroom for the other rooms in the apartment, so he is safe). Lately, he is up playing until midnight, and then he complains that he has bad thoughts. So he does this when he is his most tired, and says he thinks about elephants stomping around in the room, and I explain that there are no elephants in his room, and tell him to back to his room to either go to bed or play, but after 5 minutes he comes back again and start moaning about bad thoughts, and after the 4th or 5th time I loose my patience and tell him to just go to his room and stop thinking about it. I can't handle this, I don't think he has bad thoughts, I think that his craving attention, that he has turned down the offer of us staying with him until it suits him. How do I approach this? I feel that it is getting out of hand. Why does he always come to me, why not the father?"
Oh, dear. Where does one begin?
I try to stay away from chat forums as they only spark unnecessary aggression a lot of the times, but this time I felt inclined to answer. My reply?

"You say you have a good bed time routine, but as far as I can see, you have no bed time routine. A five year old is far from old enough to decide his own bedtime, nor should he be forced to make decisions about this (and he's not reverting his decision 4 hours later to spite you, I promise!). He's looking to you to sort this out for him. It is up to you, his parents, to create a solid, consistent routine, one which you won't stray from, and that he will recognize from one day to another. Brush his teeth, wash, read a story, have a little talk in bed with only the bed light on and the good night. And when it's bed time, he needs to stay in bed. It might take a few weeks to sort out, but trust me, you owe this to him."

I wonder what super-nanny would say about this:)?

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