Knowledgeable of many topics, expert in none. Just “Ask Kevin”, and have some fun!
by Kevin Flanagan, Elmhurst Funion Advice Columnist and Opinion Writer
Dear Kevin: “My 4-year-old often wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to sleep in bed with my husband and me. We either have to let him join us, or we have to spend upwards of an hour getting him back in to bed until he falls asleep again. Do you have any suggestions on how to curb this behavior?” – Sleepy on Saylor Avenue
Dear Sleepy on Saylor Avenue: I can relate to your situation, as we have a 5-year-old that went through the same phase. We took a “tough love” approach that we found to be very effective.
We created a character called the “Toe Monster”. The basic premise is that the Toe Monster sneaks under the beds of children every night. When a child gets out of bed or makes excessive noise, the Toe Monster grabs them and pulls one of their little toes off to add to its collection. My mother happens to be diabetic and had a toe amputated several years ago, so we capitalize on this coincidence to sell the story to our son about how she was once “caught” by the Toe Monster at a young age.
The key to this approach is to make sure your son understands two things:
- He has to quiet once he goes to bed – no yelling for Mommy or Daddy.
- He must remain in bed until daylight, no matter what.
My wife and I have had so much fun with it that we often take it to another level: When there’s nothing on TV, we’ll set up a hidden camera, grab some monster gloves (you can pick up a cheap pair on Amazon for less than $15), hide under his bed and haunt him for part of the night.
He didn’t believe us at first. But we now have this hilarious video of him looking down from his bed and seeing the monster hands sticking out, and just freezing in pure terror. My wife even adds sound effects by shaking a half jar of pretzels to mimic the sound of the Toe Monster’s collection. Around Halloween time, you can find fake toes at the store and leave them out on your son’s floor every now and then. Just tell him that the Toe Monster must have “dropped” them while waiting to catch his next child.
It took only a couple of days for this to work. We did have one incident in which we forgot the monster gloves hanging out from under his bed and we didn’t realize he was stuck up there until after lunch the next day. After a few counseling sessions and some new sheets, we now make it a point to get the gloves each time.
If you’re interested in picking up our fake toes, head over to Elmhurst Area eParents and search my name. You’ll see I have them listed for sale as a “porch pickup” item. We’ve been interruption-free at night for the past eight months now, and we no longer need to explain why Mommy and Daddy are “wrestling” at 2:00 a.m.
“Just ask Kevin” is written by Kevin Flanagan, who peruses Wikipedia and is a self-proclaimed expert in all subjects and fields. If you have a question or issue and would like Kevin’s advice, please email him at email@example.com
“While Kevin’s methods are considered unconventional, they are no doubt effective. But the long-term effects of such trauma remain to be seen.”
– Anonymous psychologist who wishes to protect his/her reputation.