Q: Every night after my 9-year-old son goes to bed, he wakes up, goes to bathroom and reads for an hour. When I see it, I tell him to go to bed and he goes, but sometimes I am busy downstairs and don’t notice until later. Sometimes, he tells me than it’s the only time he can read and not be disturb by others. Also, he goes to bathroom before going to bed but within 10 or 15 minutes, he’ll go again and again. I don’t know what to do anymore because next morning he is really tired. Thanks!
A: It’s hard to say no to reading, isn’t it? All of my kids are readers, which we love, but it can also get in the way of chores and bedtimes. Since it sounds like your house may be a little chaotic for your son’s concentration, let him stay up a half hour later to read in his room without disruption.
For the bathroom breaks, more than once is likely too many. It sounds like this has become a habit with him, but he needs your help in breaking it. Give him something to hang on the back of his door handle, like a necklace. Tell him that as long as the object is hanging on the inside of his door, he can come out of his bed after lights out. However, when he gets up to go to the bathroom, he must bring the necklace to you. No necklace—no potty break. That should help cut down on the nighttime exits.
If he comes out without the necklace, then the next evening, you put him to bed immediately after supper, no extra reading time allowed (but he does get the necklace again for one bathroom trip). Most kids this age don’t like their bedtimes pushed earlier, so while he’ll likely try to come out multiple times the first night, this should cut down on the exits.
Remember, bedtimes are not solely for the kids—it’s for the grownups to have some time to themselves as well. My kids don’t always fall asleep immediately, but having some extra “think time” in their rooms in the dark isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all.