I think every parent fears that their young child will be wandering the streets in the middle of the night because they figured out how to unlock the front door. What is a parent to do?
It was this very question that my wife and I struggled with as our three year old refused to stay in his bedroom at night. We were convinced and worried that he would wake during the night and go downstairs and out the door. BAM! We are now on the news answering Sally Wiggin's questions and blaming ourselves for not doing more to prevent this scenario.
We thought of several ways to prevent this and tried to implement most of them. In the end nothing really worked. Either the idea failed, was too extreme, or did not provide enough of a deterrent to insure that our son would stay in his room.
It was during this frustrating time that we finally found our solution. For us this solution was the silver bullet we had been searching for all along. It alerts us when he comes out of his room and because of this alert he has recognized that he can not sneak out or beat the system, thus modifying his behavior to our acceptance.
What is it you ask? We call it the doorbell.
I stopped by our local hardware store and spent around $30 for this device. It took about 5 minutes to install, and about three days for JMC to figure out his days of sneaking out of his room were long gone.
We keep the chime in the kitchen when he goes to bed and then relocate the chime to our bedroom later that night. The chime is loud enough to alert us when we are sleeping that JMC is out of his room. So loud we have place some gaffers tape on it to quiet it down a little.
We have had this “doorbell” in place for several years now and couldn’t be more pleased. Anytime we have had company (usually parents themselves) and they hear the chime for the first time, they ask “What was that sound?” After we explain, and in some case how we finally came to this solution, they fall in love with the idea and go buy their own.
The other day my wife and I were joking that we will use the doorbell until JMC has graduated high school. I know if my parents had done something like this to me, I would have not been sneaking out of the house during my teenage years.