One night last month, bedtime spiraled out of control.
Liesl and I divide and conquer getting the kids to bed. Liesl gets the toddler, and I get the preschooler.
This past weekend, my part of the bedtime ritual devolved into a screaming match—mostly, though not entirely, on our daughter’s part.
Liesl and I switched teams. As I sat in the dark nursing Tea to sleep, a thought occurred to me: we’re doing this exactly backwards.
Our bedtime ritual consisted of tasks to be accomplished and fun things afterward. Whenever Dub refused to comply or threw a fit about any of the tasks, she’d lose one of the fun things.
Great idea, right? Wrong.
In practice, that set us up for failure. Every time she misbehaved, we’d tell her she was losing a privilege, and then she would get even angrier.
So as I sat in the dark, I thought, “We could turn this problem inside out.”
And we have. I made a chart of the tasks that we need to accomplish, and the rewards (there happen to be four of each, which works out well). Dub can read the chart well enough to follow along.
Now we’ve got things in the right order. Instead of losing privileges because of “bad” behavior, she’s earning rewards for good behavior. She’s moving herself through the process, because she enjoys choosing a marker, and checking off each task and reward.
I have no illusions that it will work forever. But for right now, it has cut the drama down to near zero. It’s blissful.