Goodnight pass, help children sleep

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Robert Maurer

Goodnight pass, help children sleep

The bedtime pass can be the solution to make children sleep better and go to bed at the scheduled time. Its effectiveness is scientifically proven.

Last update: July 26, 2022

Bedtime can be stressful for the family. Screaming, crying, fear, distress and constant awakenings can become routine when we don't have an effective way to manage the problem. Luckily, the goodnight pass comes to the rescue.

We may think it only happens to our family, but the truth is that it is extremely common. The important thing is to know how to act assertively to achieve peaceful and restful sleep for all family members.

The little ones of the house have more difficulties when it comes to going to sleep, but making it easier is not entirely up to them. In this article, we show you how to make bedtime healthier and more enjoyable using the method called bedtime pass. Let's begin!

Goodnight pass, what is it?

It is very common for children not to want to go to bed. The reasons can be many, the following are the main ones:

  • They want to play again.
  • They want to spend more time with their family.
  • It is a form of rebellion.
  • They are afraid (of being left alone, of the dark, of nightmares, etc).

The causes can be many, which is why we need to review all the dynamics related to the baby's sleep. What does the child do in the hours before bedtime? What does he do if he wakes up at night?

An effective way to help children sleep is the bedtime pass, a technique for children who have difficulty or refusal to go to bed. It is also supported by various scientific researches.

The main difficulties faced with this method are the reluctance to go to bed and fall asleep. But also the habit of calling from bed or taking refuge in the parents' bed if he wakes up at night.

These behaviors are reinforced if bedtime is delayed and contact with parents is maintained. For this purpose, the bedtime pass proves to be a suitable strategy. It is also recommended for children who are able to fall asleep independently in their own bed.

What does the goodnight pass consist of?

The bedtime pass teaches little ones to stay in bed and be independent at bedtime, with the slightest protest. Let's see what steps this model provides:

  • Sit down with the baby and tell him what he will do with mom and dad.
  • Explain to the child that he is having difficulty sleeping and that you have an idea to help him. For example: "I know it's hard for you to fall asleep, so I've come up with an idea."
  • Explain the strategy to the child as follows. “You and I will prepare a pass for you to use every night, a bedtime pass. After mom and dad put you to bed, you can use the pass for a free room exit, but it has to be for a specific reason, like going to the bathroom, hugging mom and dad. If you use the pass, you have to give it to us (mum or dad), and then go back to bed ”.
  • The moment of the explanation must be short (approximately), but detailed. For example, be clear about what happens after the child has already used the pass. “After using the pass, you have to go back to bed and stay there all night”.
  • Make the pass together with the child; the more creative, the better. The child must be allowed to participate, so she will feel it about her.
  • Just before going to bed give the child the pass and remind him of the purpose.
  • If your little one uses the pass, take the pass and remind him that it is time to stay in the room and sleep.

If the child calls after using the pass, try to ignore his behavior, even if it insists. Likewise, if he leaves the room after using the pass, you must physically bring him back to his room, without speaking.

Remember to enforce these rules wisely, making sure that the levels of suffering do not exceed certain limits.

The first evenings it is important to remind the child of the rules, to the point of internalizing them. Also, don't forget to reward him for using the pass and after staying in his room.

If you are consistent, the chances of success will increase. Make sure that other carers also maintain this routine.

What are the benefits of the bedtime pass?

  • Your child will quickly learn that it is best to keep the pass for the important moments, otherwise they will not get the attention they want.
  • The discomfort when going to bed is reduced.
  • Improve sleep hygiene.
  • It is possible to eliminate sleep resistance independently.
  • Higher levels of satisfaction.
  • It gives parents and children an element of control.
  • Decreases anxiety.
  • It makes managing emotions more assertive.
  • Improve the ability to make decisions.

Despite the advantages listed, it should be remembered that if at the beginning the child insists on protesting behavior, it can be painful not to rush to comfort them; with the passage of time, however, it will be easier also thanks to the results obtained.

What science says

The validity of this method is proven by scientific research. In the article written by Patrick Friman et al. and published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, the authors' study of this technique is exposed.

This is a randomized controlled study of nineteen children with a habit of rebelling at bedtime: they cried, called and / or left their rooms after going to bed. Half of the participants were given a goodnight pass.

Those who received the passes left their rooms and cried and screamed much less. Likewise, parents of the passless half reported high levels of satisfaction.


The bedtime pass is an effective way to significantly reduce your child's inappropriate behaviors before bed. A wonderful way to deal with the discomfort experienced at bedtime and promote healthy habits.

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