2: Staying in Bed


My 2-year old has recently not been staying in her bed. After repetitive spankings, I put a lock on the inside of her door. She now usually falls asleep on the floor. Am I doing the right thing? Should I wait until she acts tired before I lay her down, or should I just put her down when I think it is "time"?


I think securing the door in some way is wise. We put up a baby gate so that our 2-year-old doesn't wander through the house while we are sleeping. She doesn't tend to do that, but it is a nice precautionary measure. Malia can probably climb over the gate, but Kathleen would definitely hear her and spring into action. (Of course you'll want to make it so that firemen can get in, and older kids can get out in an emergency.) So, securing the door accomplishes the safety issue, but does not address the issue of disobedience (which I'll address in a second).

There are lots of different ideas on scheduling. Some like to stay with a consistent time and others don't. I certainly would cut back on naps if she is not tired at night. You might consider giving her a set bed time but not necessarily a set lights out time. She can go to bed and look at books say at 8:30 (or whatever works for your family). Then you can be more flexible on the lights out time depending on how tired you think she is.

If you want her to stay in bed during that time, which is a very reasonable standard, here are some things to consider:

  1. Give clear instruction. 'Stay in bed' is certainly clear. 'Keep your head on the pillow' is another one that helps ban jumping on the bed and things of that sort.
  2. Sleeping on the floor is certainly not a big deal, but disobedience is.

    Genesis 8:21 says "...every inclination of [man's] heart is evil from childhood..." She needs to obey; and I think she will obey if you continue to hold her to the standard. My impression from your letter is that spanking did not seem to be effective in this case. I think the catch with spanking a two-year-old for getting out of bed is that it can be hard for her to associate the disobedient behavior with the punishment.

    Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, "When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong."

    This might seem strong with a two-year-old, but the principle is still the same: the more closely the offense and the punishment are associated, the better. Because of the nature of the offense, and her level of understanding, it may be easy for her to end up getting disciplined five or ten minutes after she committed the act. If she understands, that is fine, but it is also possible that she might think she is getting disciplined for playing with her doll or whatever she was doing when she got caught. To help remedy this, you might want to put her down and then wait right outside her door. When she starts to get out of bed catch her in the act and discipline her for that every time. You may want to stay outside the door like that for 30 minutes each night and just pass the time reading a book or something. Kathleen and I have done that with some of our kids and that has always made a difference in three or four nights. After that we don't stand guard any more unless the problem resurfaces.
    I hope that helps!
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