Friday, November 15, 2013
The Doctor Comes to the Rescue
A young family has a very big problem. Their 5, 3 and 1 year old children are very noisy.
Now stop laughing! The situation is that they live in an upstairs apartment and the downstairs neighbors are complaining loudly and often – to the point where these folks are facing eviction. And moving at this time is not an option.
The issue is similar to families where Mom or Dad works nights and needs to sleep in the daytime. Or a family who has a frail relative living with them who requires quiet.
My suggestion requires some firm parental leadership that is conveyed through significant consequences.
This approach is one of John Rosemond’s most famous ideas – “the doctor”. It will apply to the 3 and 5 year old; the 1 year old is too young. But when the older kids quiet down, the little one may follow along too.
First of all, try to schedule as much outdoor time as you reasonably can. Try to give your kids time at the park or in the yard and encourage all the running, jumping and noisy playtime you can. It is harder as we move into the cold months, but do the absolute best you can.
Now later today at a reasonably calm moment, sit the kids down and have a brief conversation that goes something like this. “I had a talk with your doctor today about how noisy you are in the house. He told me that when kids can’t play quietly in the house, it is because they aren’t getting enough sleep. So from now on, he told me to tell you once each day that playtime in the house needs to be quiet. If even once you get too noisy, I will know that means you need more sleep. So you will go to bed directly after supper that night. I am sorry I didn’t know this before and am glad the doctor gave us some help!”
Be light hearted, be upbeat, be clear and be concise. No long explanations about the neighbor’s complaints, the terrible worry that would come with eviction, the outrageous behavior of children who don’t obey – this is too much information and is unlikely to motivate your kids.
Change is only going to happen when their standard of living is seriously affected – and early bedtime is a horrible consequence from your kids’ viewpoint!
Now be absolutely consistent about following the doctor’s instructions. Tell them about quiet play once each day. Then no reminders, threats or second chances. If play becomes noisy, just announce that bedtime is right after supper tonight.
A few days of implementing early bedtime should get their attention and help them get the rest they need to play quietly in the house. Expect some improvement, some worsening, some improvement and then another test or two to see if the rule is still in place. But stay the course and hang in there.
This approach works because it is objective, calm and authoritative. It can help a child get over a hump in his life and for this family, a very significant “hump” for all of them.