Tag: bedtime

“I Overreacted and Gave My Child Too Harsh a Consequence…. Now What..?”

Dad: Kerry, I’m a single dad and wondering how I can gracefully back out from having overreacted and given my son a harsher consequence than I should have?

Clever kidHe’s 4 and was throwing water out of the bathtub. I got mad and told him he had to go straight to bed with no stories. I cooled down a few minutes later and realized I had overreacted. I told him I was sorry that I’d gotten so irritated and I had reconsidered and that he didn’t have to go to bed yet. But now I’m worried that I’ve lost credibility with him. Was there a better way to handle that?

Kerry: Chris, I think the way you handled it was completely appropriate. It’s ok to teach your kids that sometimes we adults re-think things and change our minds. It’s also ok to model that a normal part of being a grown-up is making mistakes and then fixing them.

If you want to bring a little more playfulness into your parenting, you can try a “re-do.” That’s where you tell your son that you didn’t like the way you handled the bathtub scene and that you would like to re-do it. You playfully back out of the bathroom and pretend you are talking backwards. Then you stick your head back in and ask if he’s ready for you to do that scene over. You can say, “Bathtub Scene, Take Two.” You might even ask him to splash the water again! (That’s optional.) Then you go in and handle the situation the way you wished you had done it in the first place.
Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2014 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and
Family Therapist
and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps
parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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How Many Ways I Can Be Naughty at Bedtime?

Putting Toddler to Bed

Three year old Wes used to play his favorite game at bedtime. It was called, “See how many ways I can be naughty.”

He was the only one enjoying the game. His single, working dad certainly did not. Wes was very creative in how he played the game: he ran away when it was time to put on his pj’s. He clenched his jaw when it was time to brush his teeth. He screamed and threatened to wake up his baby brother. He jumped on the bed when it was time for tuck in. Sound familiar? It’s a very popular game amongst the little people. It’s a game though, that doesn’t usually end well for either the child or the parent.

Wes’s game ruled until Daddy came up with a better game called “Earn a Minute.” This game starts at the beginning of bedtime when Daddy whispers to Wes, “For every step of bedtime that you do cooperatively, you earn a minute of You-n-Me time. If you get enough, we might be able to read a whole extra book!” “Game on” for little Wes. He might as well wear a sign that says, “Will Cooperate For You-N-Me Time.”

Here’s how the scoring works
Brush teeth: earn a minute.
Go potty: earn a minute.
Wash hands: earn a minute.
Get undressed: earn a minute.
Get in the bath: earn a minute.
Cooperate with being washed: earn a minute.
Get out of the bath first time you’re told: earn a minute.
Hold still while being dried: earn a minute.
Put on PJs: earn a minute.
Climb into bed: earn a minute.

Wes has mastered this “game” and he savors his ten minutes of special Daddy-time before going to sleep. Dad is happy because the extra story time takes less time than all the hassling did, and father and son both get happy snuggle time instead of exasperation and negative attention.

Every now and then, Daddy mixes things up and says, “We’re not playing tonight, so you might as well be a rascal.” Well now, when Daddy invites Wes to misbehave, it’s not as much fun for Wes and the power struggle is over.


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Part 3: Happy Family Evenings End With Happy Hour

Wouldn’t it be nice to start each evening with some time to sit, relax and chat with your husband, wife or significant other?

<Parenting Help for Happy FamiliesEvening parenting takes a lot of energy after a full day of either working outside the home or parenting. One couple I worked with used to try to sit and talk when the working dad got home from work, but their sons would whine, “You want to talk to mommy more than to me!” Their kids would be disruptive and demand attention. Mom and dad just wanted a few minutes of peace to relax and catch up. Sitting and talking with each other became more frustrating than it was worth.

This family made their evenings with their boys, ages 3 and 4, so much more enjoyable by doing the following:

Mom now tells the boys that when Daddy gets home, the grown ups are going to sit and talk for 20 minutes. It’s their “happy hour” because sitting and talking to each other makes them happy. She says, “I know that when Daddy comes home, you want his attention right away and it’s hard to wait. So this is your time to tell me how you feel about that.” They tell her how they don’t like to wait and how they want to play “Hop On Pop” with daddy. She encourages them to say it a bunch of times to get it out of their system. She listens lovingly and encourages them to say everything they have to say about the matter. She asks, “Is there anything else you need to say to get it out of your system?”

Next, mom asks them, “What can you do to keep yourself happy while Daddy and I have our Happy Time? She gives them choices of playdough, an art project, a TV show, the sandbox, their train set. She could even write these choices on popsicle sticks and let them draw an activity each evening so that it feels like a surprise to see what their activity will be.

When Daddy comes home, he give hugs, kisses and smiles to everyone. Then explains to the boys that for every minute they entertain themselves peacefully and without interruping, they earn a minute of “Hop on Pop” wrestling time with Daddy.

This smart couple now gets to start most evenings with time to relax and connect before they head into “parent duty.” And now, even if they collapse into bed after the kids are asleep, they’ve gotten to enjoy each other’s company for a few precious minutes. Kids may seem to WANT every minute of your attention, but giving them the gift of modeling a good relationship is invaluable, even if it means they must entertain themselves for a bit.


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Part Two: Happy Family Evenings Continue With An Intention

Most of us SAY that family comes first, right? Wouldn’t it be nice if living that motto was as easy as saying it? Whether we like it or not, work often drains the best from many of us and our family gets stuck the leftovers.

Parenting Tips to Build Happy FamiliesDale used to come home stressed, tired, and irritated by the people he had to deal with at his job. While he drove home, he’d be on the phone, finishing up his work day and dealing with more stress. When he walked in the door, he’d often be on a phone call, waving off his little girls who were antsy to see daddy and get his attention. He had no transition time and the girls seemed like just another demand in his exhausting day. Mom would be annoyed, wishing he’d walk in the door happy to see his little girls and give her a hug and a kiss. Not a good start to the evening.

There is a quick trick that can make a huge difference in how evening family time goes. I don’t guarantee much when it comes to human behavior, but if I were to try, I’d hedge my bets on this technique for parents who work outside of the home. Stay at home parents can use the same technique, just from inside the house.

Dale started to use a 10 minute technique that dramatically changed evenings for his entire family. Here’s what he did:

He started pulling over on his way home to take a few minutes to transition from “work mode” to “family mode.”
He turned off the ringer on his phone.
He turned on a song that put him into a good mood. Sometimes he just savored the silence.
He sat and soaked in the view and took a few conscious breaths to slow down his brain.
He talked himself into leaving work at the office so that he could show up fully present for the ones he loved most in all the world.

Lastly, he set an intention for his time with the family that evening. Sometimes it was to make sure to look his wife and each child in the eyes and ask about their day…. and then to actually listen to their answers. Some days he committed to making sure to smile at each of his family members. Other days he’d focus on being a good partner in the tasks of dishes and putting the kids to bed. Sometimes he committed (to himself) to take the girls on a bike ride. Once in a while, he would look up a joke that he could tell at dinner. And always, he set his intention to be as loving as he could be. This was a big step for his goal of living without regret.

Ten minutes was all it took for this man to show up as the beloved, superstar daddy that he was to his two little girls. It made his wife love him more. Evenings were transformed. Not perfect, but transformed.


Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Part One: Happy Family Evenings Start with a Check In

Parenting Tips to Build Happy FamiliesEvening family time can sound so lovely … family dinner, playtime, baths, stories and cuddles.

In many households, however, people don’t quite feel like they’re “livin’ the dream.” Quite the contrary, in fact.

Many couples I work with tend to “read” each other and make guesses about how their mate is feeling. Fact: they often guess wrong. They mistake stress for grumpiness and tiredness for rejection. I don’t care how long you’ve been with someone, it is still always your job to let your darling know how you’re feeling and what you need.

It might sound like this:

“I have nothing left to give after being with these little people all day. I’m not grumpy, I’m just empty. I need to just sit with your arm around me and have a grown up conversation. And I need you to ask me about my day.”

“My brain is full after an intense day at work, but once I slow down a little, I’d love to play with the kids and give you a break.”

“I’m kind of irked right now and need some alone time before I’m ready to be a good parent. How can we make that work so that it feels ok for you?”

Imagine if each evening before you and your loved one showed up at home with young kids needing care and attention, you had a quick phone call to share what kind of mood you’re each in. You wouldn’t have to bother with the frustration that comes with misreading each other’s cues. You might be better able to meet each other’s needs and enjoy each other and your kids.

Single parent? Same holds true, you just have to do it with yourself. Stop and ask yourself how you feel and what you need. If your kids are old enough, you can ask them how they’re feeling and what they need. Maybe every one needs down time. Or food right away. Or family snuggles. Then figure out how everyone can get their needs met at some point during the evening. Maybe dad needs down-time first and then he’ll be able to play some catch. Or maybe the preschooler needs cuddle time right away, but then agrees to play quietly for 20 minutes while mom sits and unwinds. It’s not always easy, but it is possible for everyone to get their needs met eventually; it just takes some strategizing.

Kerry Stutzman, MSW
©2012 Kerry Stutzman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Bed Time Trouble

When kids go full blast until bedtime they have trouble.

Parents who complain that their children have a sleep problem often discover the problem is that they are expecting their kids to make an abrupt switch from a high activity level to sleep. It is better for a child to slow down and then switch from “bedroom time” to sleep time.

Reduce the level of stimulation as bedroom time approaches. Reduce the noise level in the home. Replace excitement with soothing music and remember that it is difficult for anyone to make an abrupt change from a high activity level to settling down and going to sleep.

Wise parents don’t negotiate with kids about bedroom time. They know it is morally, legally, and psychologically sound to expect children to go to their rooms at a certain time every night. They know this does not damage a child’s psyche or self-concept. It is healthy for families to have a scheduled “rest time” for parents and “bedroom time” for children.

Best wishes,


Jim Fay
©2010 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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How Do I Get My Preschooler to Stay in Bed?

Question from a Mom:
“My husband and I are disagreeing about the best way to get our three 3 year old to  stay in bed. I wonder if you can point me in the right direction to find information from Love and Logic on bedtime struggles with young children.” 

Answer:
Use the Love and Logic skill of choices to handle the bedtime issue. In the parenting classes that I teach, there are a few rules.  Only give 2 choices, make sure you are happy with both options, and after 10 seconds, you choose for them with empathy.

Here’s an example of how to use them to keep your child in bed.

1. Give lots and lots of choices while getting ready for bed to build up your “savings account of choice deposits.”

2.   When it’s time for “lights out,” try these choices:

Do you want 5 kisses or 6?  Do you need another hug?  Is that enough hugs and kisses to get you through the night or do you need a few more?  Do you need another kiss on your nose?  On your hand?

Do you want me to check on you in 2 minutes or 3?  She’ll probably choose 2 minutes, so set the timer (bring it with you – don’t leave it in the room) and let her know you’ll be back to check on her so she doesn’t need to get up.
In 2 minutes, go back in and ask her if she wants to be checked on in 4 or 5 minutes.  Let her choose, then leave again with the timer.
In 4 minutes go back in and ask her if she wants 8 or 9 minutes before your next check in.
Repeat as necessary. She should be asleep by the time you go back in the 3rd or 4th time.

After a few days, you can start with a longer initial time interval, like 4-5 minutes, but in training, start with small increments to build the trust.

If she gets out of bed, make a withdrawl from the choice bank,  “Didn’t mommy give you lots of choices?   It’s my turn, you need to stay in your room, thanks for understanding.  Good night.”  Be loving, but firm.
Shelly Moorman
©2010 Shelly Moorman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Thinking for Himself

After reading Parenting with Love and Logic™, Tim’s mom instituted a new bedtime policy. She told Tim that picking a sleep time was his decision. He was expected to be in his room at 8:00 each evening, but he could decide when to go to sleep. In addition to this, everyone in the family was to have “feet on the floor” at 6:00 a.m. No exceptions.

Tim slept through his alarm the next morning, only to discover that the family was leaving the house without him. A rather unpleasant babysitter took over and charged him for her services.

Needless to say, he was ready the next morning. This continued through the last four weeks of school. All during summer vacation, much to his liking, he got to sleep longer.

Now that school was soon to open, Tim came to his mom with an idea. “Mom, I’m going to run some experiments. I’m going to set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. Will you get me out of bed no matter how much I complain?”

“Now why would you want me to do that, Tim?”

“I’m running some experiments. Each night I’m going to go to bed a little later until I figure out how late I can go to sleep and still wake up in time. Since it’s my decision, I better learn how to make it a good one.”


Jim Fay
©2009 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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