Toddler Bed Training

So sometimes we talk about teens, and sometimes we talk about toddlers, and today, we’re going to talk about toddlers. Lee from Homeroom, our online community asked this great question, which I think everybody who is parenting a toddler knows. We just transferred our son to a big boy bed, but he’s getting up at five, at six a.m. Is there any way to train him to stay in his room longer?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Jeff and Alyssa it’s that they’ve really invested in-

In sleep.

In their children’s sleep habits. More than anyone else I know. So I want to hear what your thoughts are about this Jeff.

It’s true. Well, yeah, I mean it actually starts with our sleep and our sanity and then we work backwards from there of we want to set up structures, rhythms and boundaries where we feel like everyone is flourishing and that we can all be better, and for us and our family that’s been kind of sleep and just making sure that’s important and stuff like that, and structures not just for the kids, but for everyone. So yeah, this is one we really concentrate on of we have where we’re at today is our oldest kids can’t come out of their room until eight a.m. and then we have quiet time in the afternoon where they have to be in there for a couple hours to do imaginative play and drawing and whatever they want to do in there.

But we didn’t get there easily, but I also say we didn’t get there super difficultly, you just have to have the right framework. And what I mean by that is be prepared for the long haul. One thing you don’t want to do is this is how we’re doing it, and so do it. Don’t turn it in to some terrorizing thing. It was very small, subtle, and a long play for us, so what that means is probably the pattern that displayed with most of our kids is they get up around six. Not anymore, they probably get up later now a little bit later. But you know, when they’re two, whatever. So how can we make the bedroom feel like a really fun place, a special place, and then how can we incrementally retrain? So it’s really just like training, just like training you do with everything else if you practice it. We would, let’s say 11 a.m. we would go upstairs with the kids and say, “Hey we’re going to practice. I want you to pretend.” And you make it fun. I want you to get in your bed. I want you to get up, but I want you to start playing with things and daddy will tell you when you can come down.

And you do that for five minutes, and then 15 minutes, and then 20 minutes. We didn’t jump straight from six to eight a.m. we jumped from six to 6:15 and then 6:15 to 6:30 and with training in the days, and then make it really fun, and then there’s baskets in the room of fun things that they can only play with in their room, so the room, they see the room as a very special play place. We don’t say, and every parent’s different, but our rule is we don’t really care what you do, just don’t open the door. So some people want quiet. We don’t really care, they can talk to themselves, they can do that. They can jump around, some people don’t want them getting out of their bad, we don’t care about that. It’s just your own rule, what do you want to do? And then just create structures around that in really small incremental ways. And I would say, yeah it’s usually a six to 12 month kind of play before it just happens. I would say from two to three is when it just then becomes okay they start doing it now.

And I think that slow way, that training way, it just becomes really light, more gentle, and tends to … Now there’s still plenty of days in there of oh man this isn’t going how we want it, but that’s training. That’s what I would say. Anything you’d add to that?

So good. You guys, the idea of that iterative training that Jeff is describing, it’s such a different perspective. I think that Christian parents sometimes come out every single one of these issues as a strict obedience issue. As a three year old you should have the respect for authority to sit in your bed for two hours just because I told you to.


It’s like come on guys. You wouldn’t probably be able to do that at your age, let along asking a three year-old.


You’ve got to train them how to do this stuff, it’s got to be iterative, it’s got to involve some corrections, a lot of reward, and it’s a process and you got to sign up for it. And often times when we refuse to do that, and just want to go straight to do it because I told you, even though it’s something way beyond your ability, that’s often times where we might be just being selfish as parents. The first thing he tells his fathers to do, the main thing when Paul had one thing to tell fathers to do in Ephesians, he said, “Train your children in the instruction of the Lord.” It goes both ways. Children obey your parents, fathers train your children. If both are happening, then it’s good, but if you’re just saying, “No, obey me and I won’t train you.” Then you’re not living up to that side of the role, and of course you’re the one who’s got the maturity and the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. Definitely lean into training your kids, and this is a great area, but it does take time.

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