CJ rarely cried during the day, but at bedtime, the second we left the room, she started bawling. We’d grit our teeth and wait, and when she was younger we could outlast her. But then she started outlasting us. We’d wait until we couldn’t stand it any more but then we’d return to her room and she’d tell us what she wanted. And half the time we’d sort of give it to her.
I knew we were just training her to cry longer, but I didn’t know what to do about it. And then one night I realized I could use the same training method for my own ends.
“CJ,” I said, “if you’re quiet for two minutes, I’ll come back and sing you a song.” I left the room and set the oven timer for two minutes. And amazingly she didn’t make a sound until it rang.
I returned to her room and sang a song. And when she requested another one, I said, “Sure. But first you have to be quiet for four minutes.” And she was.
For the song after that, I told her she had to be quiet for eight minutes. And this time, when I returned to her room, she was asleep.