How to Quiet Down Boys' Bedtime Antics


What do you do when your children just won't go to bed?

Q: My twin boys will be 3 next month. They sleep in the same room. They've recently taken to getting out of their beds (together, although one seems to be the ringleader) every night, over and over, for up to two hours. They make a lot of noise, then they giggle and run when I approach, and feed off each other as they're escaping. I'm not sure what to do. Help!

They've certainly got your number, don't they? They get out of bed, make lots of boy-noise, you come marching sternly down the hall, they run away laughing, you herd them back into bed, then you leave the room (making lots of empty threats, I'll bet), and they start all over again. It sounds like great sport. Obviously, the problem is they're having a great time, but you're not.

You have become your own worst enemy here. Your boys cast the bait, and being the dutiful fish that you are, you bite it. They get you on the hook, reel you in, let you go; then they cast the bait again, and you bite it, and around and around the three of you go.

I'll give you a couple of suggestions.

Ignore them. I can virtually guarantee that this nightly fishing game will last no more than one hour if you do not respond. I'd be willing to bet that if you ignore this for two weeks, it will burn itself out.

Suggestion Number Two: Gate them in. (I learned this old-fashioned method by taking Advanced Gating in psychology school.) Purchase a gate or have your husband or a carpenter make one. Or, cut the kids' door in two and re-hang the lower half or two-thirds. Turn the lock around. Put them to bed, read them a story, kiss and cuddle, then leave, closing and locking the "Dutch" door behind you as you call out, "Have fun, boys!" Being behind a locked half-door with your twin brother in crime is not going to traumatize either of them. Let them boy-noise themselves to sleep in the confines of their room.

Third suggestion: If they stay in bed and go to sleep, take both of them to Disney World tomorrow to celebrate their accomplishment. Just kidding.

Whether you ignore them or gate them in, this boyishness will burn itself out in a couple of weeks. You can do this.

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