After he got up a couple times, I knew we were in for a struggle so I decided to go the easy route. I let him come back downstairs and watch So You Think You Can Dance with me. While watching the show, he started telling me that he was hungry. And the little light bulb in my head went off. I was so glad that instead of fighting him all night and punishing him for getting up, I went with my instincts and let him tell me what the problem was.
But he wasn't interested in anything I gave him. Every time I tired to lead the way back to his bedroom, he told me he was still hungry and wanted to eat. A bag of popcorn finally did the trick. No boos for the lack of nutrition, okay? You'd do the same thing and you know it.
Got him in bed and took a bio break myself. Sure enough, he was back up. I was ready to storm in there, read him the riot act and give him a good talking to about obedience and going to sleep.
He had pooped.
I swallowed back all the adrenaline and praised him for letting me know that he needed a new diaper. We had a good talk about brown poop and stinky diapers.
Then, after only 15 minutes of silence, he was back up again. This time, there was nothing wrong except that he didn't want to go to sleep. Up, down. Up, down. Up, down.
I squatted down and asked him what he wanted.
"I want go downstairs peez."Then he laid down on the floor right in front of the door. Again, the light bulb went off in my head. Follow his lead.
"No sweetie. You can't go downstairs. It's night-night time. You have to go to bed now."
"No honey. It's night time and it's dark outside. That means it's time to sleep."
"Yes, you have to stay inside, in your room. And you have to go to sleep."
I asked him if he wanted to sleep on the floor. His eyes got real big at the prospect. So I folded the comforter in half, plopped his pillow on it, grabbed three Mr. Puppy dolls and his sheet.
I have no idea if he'll sleep on it all night or not, but I haven't heard a peep since!
Sometimes, it's so easy to just go on autopilot and mother and discipline the way you always have or the way you were mothered. It's so easy to neglect looking for alternative solutions that would solve the problem in a creative and positive way.
I try to treat my children with respect while still giving them boundaries and discipline. I am a firm believer that children need boundaries and thrive in environments where there are consequences to their actions. But those boundaries and the discipline need to be productive.
Sure, I could have spanked my son for disobeying and getting out of bed. Would that have fixed the problem? No. He's pretty determined. And he was hungry. I don't want to teach him that asking for food at night means punishment and should be feared. He wasn't able to tell me immediately what his need was. Should he be punished for that?
If you spank your kids, your choice. We have spanked Little M before but we really try to keep that as a last resort for very serious offenses. I'd prefer to never spank, quite honestly, and I try not to. I'd rather find a solution that meets everyone's needs.