Beat those toddler bedtime battles!
Bedtime with your toddler should be fun
Just one more story mama…
One more sip of water mama…
I need to go potty mama…
Meeting all needs and fulfilling requests still wasn’t enough to get my child to close her eyes. I started to wonder: Am I being too permissive? Maybe a reward chart would do the trick? I felt desperate to try anything to make my toddler’s bedtime less stressful.
Keep this in mind:
What is my goal as the parent?
As a mother, our duties never end. The never ending to-do list keeps spinning in our mind, so we are frustrated if our children are taking their time to fall asleep. Try not to become entirely focused on what’s on the other side of the door: your freedom!
What is my child’s goal:
My child’s goal was for me to stay, and developmentally, that makes sense!
Try to see things from your child’s point of view:
You may see bedtime as an opportunity to tick something off your to-do list as soon as he is asleep, but your child associates bedtime with you as his primary attachment, leaving him to do something else.
The toddler bedtime frustration cycle
To break the cycle, you need to understand your circle of control!
Don’t attempt to control your child’s thoughts, feelings, words and actions. You can influence it, but not control it!
The more you try and control all of this, the more you are prohibiting connection between you and your child and that is your child’s biggest bedtime goal.
Focus on the power of your words, thoughts, feelings and actions.
Shift from “How can I get my child to_” to “What actions can I take here?”
This allows you to:
- Set realistic expectations for your child.
- Let go of goals that you have set for your child like falling asleep by a certain time.
- Set goals for yourself about how you will respond when the bedtime challenges begin.
Tips to make toddler bedtime battles easier
1. Set boundaries:
It’s not about what your child can’t do, but what you will do.
- Are you willing to lay with your child until he falls asleep?
- Are you willing to take turns with bedtime routine with your partner?
2. Consistent routines:
Routine helps your child to feel safe and connected. How to create a toddler bedtime routine?
An example of a bedtime routine can be:
– Put on pajamas
– Read a book together
– Sing a song
– Say your prayers
– Switch the light off
Decrease power struggles by giving them a choice.
“It’s time to put on your pajamas now. Do you want to wear your red pajamas or green pajamas?”
3. Make bedtime interesting:
Be creative. Give kisses upside down, while tickling your child. Anything that makes bedtime fun
4. Focus on being reunited
If you are unwilling to lay with your child until they fall asleep, try something else that will decrease their anxiety.
- “I’m going to come back, and when I do, I will tuck you in again.”
- “I’m going to come back in two minutes. I will give you extra kisses when I return.”
Leave for a short interval as needed. The goal is to return before your child starts to worry.
5. Validate their feelings:
Rushing through bedtime, may be tempting you to say “I don’t care if you want your red pajamas, you will wear the green pajamas!”
Avoid power struggle by helping your child feel heard and show them you understand. Reconnect!
- “You feel frustrated when it’s time to put your toys away.”
- “I know brushing your teeth is not your favorite thing to do”
6. Let them finish what they’re doing:
It’s hard when you’re in the middle of something to stop and leave it unfinished to go do something else. Be sure to give advanced warning to wrap up what they are busy with.
- “Almost bedtime. I’m setting the alarm for 10 minutes. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to start our bedtime routine.”
Trust me, I know you’re exhausted at the end of the day. But hang in there! Gently remind yourself how you want your child to feel at the end of the day.