We then ‘rehearse’ or practise it being bedtime in the middle of the afternoon. (Separate the practice time from the actual bedtime so that it can remain playful and feel like a game).
If your child delivers a stellar performance of following the new regime during practice, but this is NOT how they usually behave at bedtime, we can prompt them - “Okay, but I think you should BEG me for more stories!” or “Okay, but I think you should cry really loudly now!”
Kids will most likely chuckle at this point and will feel like it’s a great game, but really they are practising accepting a boundary. It is also a powerful rehearsal for US of holding the boundary.
Go over the ‘game’ of rehearsing several times.
“Whoa we both did that new way of doing bedtime so well!! Okay, let’s do it again!!”
Have fun with it and maybe even swap roles! You can be the one who is lying in bed begging for more stories or songs. Your child can practise being the firm parent!
This idea of rehearsing can be applied to any pattern of behaviour that’s starting to become tricky. Dr Becky Kennedy writes more about this concept of practising challenging scenarios with our kids, in her book Good Inside (pages 206-206). Storytelling is another way of rehearsing - telling your child a story about ‘another’ child who overcame a particular struggle.
So there you go, a simple tool to add to your parenting kete. And if practice doesn't make perfect, we believe it will at least lead to a huge improvement!