Do you have a toddler that holds you hostage at bedtime? Do they still happen to sleep in your bed? The struggle to get kids to go to bed is real, we have all heard stories, and I am sure we have all counseled others on this problem. I would like to introduce you to the Bedtime Pass. Dr. Patrick Friman, and colleagues, have given us this great procedure to help with this oh-so-common issue!
The Bedtime Pass is an extinction-based procedure that allows the child to access their parents at one point after the bedtime routine has been finished, but not after that. They also can only use this pass once a night. The procedure goes a little like this; your child is given one bedtime pass. This could be something the decorate themselves, or something that you make for them. It just must be something that they have ownership of as well, make it fun! Then we teach the procedure; 1. Put the child in to bed, 2. Provide the card that can be exchanged for one “free” trip out of the room, or parent visit in the room to satisfy an acceptable request, 3. Give up that pass, 4. Ignore all additional attempts to seek your attention (Moore et al., 2006).
The last one (#4) is where it gets a little tricky because we need to be prepared for something called the extinction burst. This is where we can say that things will likely get worse, before they get better. There might be crying, screaming, and maybe some behaviors that are emotional in nature. But let me say one more time, it may get worse before it gets better! This can be the hardest part of the Bedtime Pass procedure, but we are going to stay strong. The research shows a significant decrease in bedtime resistance in three areas; calling out and crying, leaving the room, and time to quiet (Moore et al., 2006).
The Bedtime Pass is a great way to set limits and expectations to help kids be successful during bedtime routine. It also increases the independence of our kids, and allows them to have access to parents when they need it, versus when they want it!
Moore, B., Friman, P., Fruzzetti, A., & MacAleese, K. (2006). Brief Report: Evaluating the bedtime pass program for child resistance to bedtime—A randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Pediatric Society, 32(3), 283-287. https:// doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsl025
Friman, P., Poling, A. (1995). Making life easier with effort: Basic findings and applied research on response effort. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28, 583-590. https:// 10.1901/jaba.1995.28-583