Taking Hours to Go to Bed
The problem: A bedtime process that dragged on into the wee hours. The 2½-year-old daughter of Kerri Eastham of Torrance, California, had become a master of delaying bedtime. “Some requests were legitimate, like ‘One more trip to the bathroom.’ Others were ridiculous: ‘One more dinner, please?’ ” says Eastham.
The fix: A photo-driven bedtime routine. “I took pictures of my daughter brushing her teeth, washing her face, and so on. We laminated them and taped them in order to a strip of paper. When each one was completed, she would say, ‘Check!’ ” says Eastham. “And if she asked for another drink of water, I’d show her the chart and say, ‘See? We already did that.’ It worked right away.”
The expert take: “Kids love clarity―they crave it,” says MacKenzie. “An approach like this answers all the questions: What’s next? How far can I go? How much is left?” To keep the novelty of the chart from wearing off, MacKenzie recommends updating it from time to time―which Eastham has done by subbing in new pictures (showing off new teeth or new pink pajamas) and adding in stickers that function as check marks (and peel off easily from the laminated photos).