Are you sick of having major bedtime battles or way too many callbacks after they are in bed? If this feels like your life then there are so many different things you can do to help get bedtime back on track and fix bedtime battles, curtain calls and have peaceful bedtimes again.
Have clear rules about sleep.
Kids do incredibly well with rules and boundaries in general and sleep is no exception. Sit down with your toddler and discuss what your sleep rules are. You can even chat about all the aspects of the bedtime routine. Make sure you keep the bedtime routine to half a dozen items because the aim s to have a routine of only about half an hour or it becomes too drawn out.
While having this discussion you can talk about the mistakes you’ve all been making around bedtime and what you’ll be doing in the future to fix said mistakes. Make sure that you follow through with the changes you say you’ll be making. Kids are amazing loophole finders, and will likely test to make sure you mean what you say and follow through.
Role-play sleep changes.
To help your toddler understand the changes you plan to make it can be really helpful to role-play during the waking hours. This helps toddlers understand what is expected of them, and also what they can expect of you as well. As you’re practicing show them that you have confidence that they will do just as well at bedtime as they are doing now.
Consider how your toddler reacts to transitions.
Sometimes half the battles around bedtime are about the transition from playtime or spending time with you, to going to bed. Don’t just suddenly let them know it is time to get ready for bed and expect them to follow. They’ll likely protest as they were enjoying what was happening before your announcement. Give them a tangible timer that the time for getting ready for bed is coming soon, so they are mentally preparing themselves as they finish their current activity.
Account for some snuggle time in the bedtime routine as well, so they get that last 1:1 time with you too. This will help with the transition to alone time while they fall asleep.
Help your toddler relax.
Some toddlers and kids, in general, find it difficult to relax at bedtime. There are a few different things you can do to help. Firstly make sure that the bedtime routine isn’t too late, because overtiredness can cause a second wind and difficulties relaxing. If it is still an issue and you know your sleep timing is tight, look at giving them opportunities to relax during the bedtime routine. Some guided meditation can help – there are some wonderful ones on the Insight Timer app, or you could look at Twilight Moshi as well. Lastly, give your child a few moments during the bedtime routine to have a quick chat about the day, that way if there is something on their mind they’ve offloaded it before you say goodnight.
Change how you react to any problems at bedtime.
As a mom, as well as a Child Sleep and Behavior Consultant, I know how hard it can be when bedtime goes awry and it can be so easy to get upset, angry or just tell them to “Go to Sleep”. It can even be something you unintentionally say when you leave the room. This can be a loaded statement for kids. They may feel a little frustrated because they can’t just simply go to sleep because it has been told to them. So instead of saying that if you are having sleep challenges or your toddler expresses frustration that they can’t sleep, give them some strategies that they could use as they wait for sleep to come. You can tell them they can cuddle their teddy, think about what you’ll be doing the next day or do some big breaths. Whatever you think will resonate with your toddler.