I think a lot of us would agree that babies/toddlers, understand a lot more than they can verbalize articulately. Much like Lolo’s waking’s in the middle of the night (conversation: Mummy: ‘why do you get up in the middle of the night to mummy and daddy’s room?’ Lolo: ‘Because I like you; mummy, daddy and AJ’. Translation: ‘I’m lonely.’) It’s the craziest thing that she feels such a strong emotion because mummy, daddy and AJ are sleeping in the same room since AJ was born 9 weeks ago and that she feels like she’s missing out all alone in her room. So what was our plan? Negotiation and bribery.
Step 1: Understanding her situation and making her feel safe. We told her that we loved her and that we had not put her in a different room as a punishment. That we had AJ in our room because he kept waking in the middle of the night and we wanted to make sure that Lolo could get some sleep. And the reason she needed to stay in her room is to help mummy and daddy get as much sleep as possible.
Step 2: Negotiation & Bribery: She would get either Frozen stickers or Minion stickers if she could sleep through the night and not come into mummy or daddy’s room for 3 nights in a row. When she could get up was indicated by the ‘sun coming up’ on her Groclock. And IF she came in on the next night after having successfully slept 2 nights for example, we would reset and start back at zero. She needed to sleep 3 consecutive nights to get her into the habit of staying in her room again. The choice between the stickers in itself I think is a kind of prize, she gets to make a choice as up til now we have been mandating the terms.
Step 3: Patience. Personally I think it’s crazy to think that a child can understand the concept of sleeping 3 nights in a row otherwise everything starts from the beginning again. I also think it’s amazing that she was patient enough to wait 3 days! The first morning of course she bounded in proudly and said ‘Sun up! Please can I have my stickers’. My heart melted and I almost gave in but we repeated that this was 1 of 3 nights and she still had 2 left. There was no conviction in my words but I still said them. I even gave her the stickers to hold so she could really imagine her prize. And this morning after 3 successful nights it was such a cute thing to watch her evaluate with consideration which prize she really wanted. After a minute of holding both, she handed back the minions to daddy to put away and kept the frozen stickers. Genuinely impressed she did not run away and tear open both sets! The Minions are now set for 4 night’s time, and so we begin again.