Bedtime Training

Is bedtime an exhausting ordeal? Solve the problem with a Bedtime Training Session.

Note: This is a sample Bedtime Training Session. For more details on training your children with a Training Session, be sure to read the blog “Train Up a Child”.


For some parents, bedtime is an exhausting, dreaded ordeal. Their children cry to stay up later, resist going to their room, whine for another drink, or won't stay in their bed.


If bedtime is a nightly battle, train your children how to go to bed with a Training Session! By training your children exactly what you expect them to do at bedtime, you can prevent the majority of bedtime troubles.


Training with a Training Session

There are 4 things to do during a Training Session:

  1. Instruct

  2. State consequence

  3. Ask questions

  4. Practice


Sample Bedtime Training Session

The first rule of a Training Session is to schedule it at a neutral time, not during a problem. So if the problem is at bedtime, plan your training session in the morning or afternoon—not at night, when everyone is tired and cranky.


Give Specific Instructions

Then, have your kids sit down and train them exactly what you expect them to do at bedtime. Be very specific. Your conversation might sound something like this:


“From now on, when I tell you to go to bed, you need to do these 4 things: (From the blog “First-Time Obedience”.)


  1. STOP what you’re doing.

  2. LOOK me in the eye.

  3. RESPOND “Yes ma’am or Yes sir” with a good attitude. (Note: You can have your children respond with any wording you choose.)

  4. DO what I told you to do.


Once you stop, look, and respond, you need to get up and head toward the bathroom. You’re going to:

  1. Take a bath.

  2. Brush your teeth.

  3. Go to the bathroom one last time.

  4. Get in bed.


Once you’re in bed, you’re not allowed to get out of bed. You’re not allowed to call for me or bother me for any reason, unless it’s an emergency, like you’re throwing up.”


Note: If you want to allow your child to look at a book for 15 – 30 minutes after getting into bed, that’s your choice. However, don’t allow them to play with toys in bed. This is sleep time, not play time. And The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends absolutely no electronics (screens) in a child’s bedroom. This includes eBooks. The glowing screen interferes with a child’s sleep cycle. So if you want your child to look at a book in bed, make sure it’s an old-fashioned book—no eBooks.


State the Consequence

Then, be sure to tell them the exact consequence they will definitely receive if they don’t follow the bedtime rules. Make sure the consequence you choose is a definite deterrent to disobeying. If your kids are still not following the bedtime rules after the Training Session, that’s a sign that your consequence is not harsh enough. Increase the degree of unpleasantness.


Ask Questions

And ask questions along the way, like:


  • What are you going to do when I tell you to go to bed?

  • Are you allowed to get out of bed after I tuck you in?

  • Can you yell for me if you have a question?

  • What is your consequence if you don’t obey?


Practice the Correct Behavior

Once you’ve explained exactly what they’re supposed to do, have them PRACTICE the correct behavior. Have your kids pretend to be playing, and then tell them to go to bed. They need to stop, look, respond, and then head toward the bathroom. Have your kids pretend to take a bath, pretend to brush their teeth, pretend to go to the bathroom, and then, get in bed. If necessary, do it again. Make sure they clearly know what they’re supposed to do at bedtime.


After the Training Session

After a Training Session, there are still 4 things you need to do:


  1. Remind

  2. Supervise

  3. Praise

  4. Enforce Consequence


Remind Them of the Bedtime Rules

Then, for the first couple of weeks, REMIND your children every evening before bedtime what they’re supposed to do.


Supervise

For the first week or so, be extra diligent. Each night, SUPERVISE and inspect that they are truly getting ready in the bathroom. If they dawdle, you might want to give them a time limit. For instance, you could say, “You need to be out of the bathroom and in bed by 8:00. If you take too long to get ready, tomorrow night you’re going to have to start getting ready 30 minutes earlier.”


Praise the Correct Behavior

In education, there’s a term known as The Law of Reinforcement. It basically means that if children get a desirable response to their behavior, they’ll repeat the behavior. For training purposes, it means that if children get praised and reinforced for doing the correct thing, they’ll repeat the behavior.


Enforce Any Consequences Incurred

Finally, the most important component of the training process is to definitely give the pre-determined consequence if they disobey. Your children need to know that you mean what you say, and you don’t give idle threats. So whatever consequence you said you’d give during the Training Session, by golly, do it if they break the rules. If you are truly consistent with the consequences, you will actually only have to administer them a few times before your children know you mean business.


To learn more about how to train your children in good behavior, read Parenting with Focus by Katie Ely.


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Want to make new friends and connect with other Christian parents? Host a small group parenting class. It’s easy with The Parenting with Focus Video Course. Just watch the short teaching video and discuss the group discussion questions. Easy—and fun!

Learn how to get your children to clean their rooms and help around the house with Rubric Rules: A Cleaning System for Kids.A

“ Train up a child in the way he should go, 

and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Proverbs 22:6​

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