And now the Ultimate Weapon doesn't work so reliably, either. The little guy has been maddeningly rebellious about naptime and bedtime for the past week or so, and (not once but twice) not only has he had the threat of losing his big boy pillow leveled at him, and scoffed at it, and seen us follow through and take it away, but he has also had the threat of losing the entire big boy bedframe leveled, scoffed, and seen us follow through on that, too. For the last two nights he has spent the night sleeping on a mattress on the floor, in front of his reading chair (which no longer has a seat cushion, because he kept tossing that across the room in full-on gleefully anarchic toddler mode, and I hid that away, too).
This might be cause for despair, but once again just in time for the Thursday update things are looking up. Tuesday night was extremely rough, but last night was better. It had been a while since we had set up the little guy with a reward chart, where he gets a smiley sticker every time he is acceptably cooperative getting ready for bed at night and then gets a small toy when he collects enough stickers; his behavior had gotten so predictably pleasant that the charts seemed unnecessary. Now the chart has returned, with an added twist: he earns a sticker by getting ready for bed, but he only gets to keep the sticker if, once mom or dad leaves, he stays in bed all night. If he gets up repeatedly after being warned and reminded not to, the sticker he just earned can be rescinded.
The little guy was adorably super-psyched about this last night which, in combination with the aforementioned harrowing horrors of the night before, made the entire evening one of the smoothest in recent memory. He got ready for bed with minimal fuss and stayed there, without a single escape attempt after lights out. The only problem now, in my mind, is that I’m not sure how much of this was random luck, how much was the novelty and excitement of the long-awaited return of the reward chart, how much was the actual power of the reward chart itself, and how much was my deliberate effort to push his bedtime somewhat later into the evening in hopes he’d be that much more tired (an effort which was ironically thwarted a bit by the little guy’s own excitement; he wanted to rush through getting ready for bed so he could get his sticker, so even though we started the process later we did it in record time, so it was almost a wash). Hopefully the luck and newness factors were minimal, and the positive influence of the reward chart (which totally worked before!) will provide a strong bridge over the current rough patch. Hopefully.