Here’s a great idea shared by one of the parents in my Love and Logic Early Childhood Made Fun! parenting class:
How do you teach your child to stay in her room when she wakes up too early?
This alarm clock will glow green when it’s time to go or orange when it’s time to stay.
Set the limit by saying: “Sweetie, you’re welcome to leave your room when the light is green. If it’s orange, feel free to play quietly in your room until it’s green.”
Then be sure to remember the most important step: when your child DOES stay in the room until the light turns green, get very excited and celebrate with hugs, kisses, a happy voice, eye contact and smiles.
When he doesn’t stay in his room, say in a loving voice, “Oh, that’s so sad. It’s not quite time to come out yet” and walk him back to his room with little eye contact, little talking, no intensity whatsoever. Tuck him back in bed for more sleeping or help him figure out what he can do quietly to entertain himself. Ask him if he’d like a few kisses or hugs to make it until it’s time to get up. Double check that he’s had enough kisses to last until he’s allowed to get up. He may not thank you. He may protest. If he learns that loud protests get you fired up and intense, he is quite likely to decide that your drama is more interesting than being alone in his room, so don’t take the bait. Have compassion that it’s hard for a little guy to stay in his room when he wants to start his day.