3 TIPS TO REDUCE THE TODDLER BEDTIME STRUGGLE
As parents, we all know the struggle that comes with bedtime whether your child is 4 months old or 4 years. Tantrums are a normal part of development in children, but there are some things that we can do to lessen them.
#1 Set A Boundary But Offer A Choice
I think we’ve all been there when we present our child with the pajamas we have chosen, and suddenly, our toddler goes from sweet little love bug to a raging tornado in 2.3 seconds. A very simple way to combat this is to offer a choice. When it is bedtime, say something like, “Okay Tommy, it’s time to put on our pajamas. Do you want your red race car jammies or your blue dinosaurs?” When you do this, the message you convey is one where your child feels like he has some say in what happens.
Control is a BIG issue with toddlers and young children. There are so many things in their lives that they feel they have no control over. These things build up so much throughout the day that they eventually explode all over you, usually at bedtime.
Check out my bedtime pass download here to help eliminate the constant questions of “Mom I need a glass of water!” or “Mommy! I need to potty!” Use this bedtime pass to allow your child the choice when they cash it in for something extra.
#2 Introduce a Set Bedtime
I am a HUGE supporter of a set bedtime. Most children need bedtime to be between 6-8pm for children ages 4 months - 4 years. After 4 years, 8pm is still a good bedtime to keep. Most 4 year olds have dropped their nap in the day, but 12+ hours is just too long for them to cope with being awake. Being overtired is a HUGE contributor to “bad behavior” at bedtime. They get so worked up in the day with no breaks, so when it comes time for bed, their little bodies are so overworked that they can’t appropriately calm themselves down. As parents, we can regulate our bodies much better than a toddler, so we often get caught in the trap of expecting too much from them. We expect them to just know they are tired and go to sleep. They have to be taught and learn how to understand their bodies.
Think about this also. Let’s say on Monday and Tuesday nights, bedtime was at 9pm, but on Wednesday, you see that your child needs an 8pm bedtime. Well in their mind, that just won’t work because last night they got a WHOLE extra hour to play with legos or minecraft. **enter tantrum here**
#3 BEDTIME ROUTINE! (And Leave the Electronics Out of It)
I love a good bedtime routine. It helps my body and mind to wind down from the day and prepare for sleep. Children are the same way. Giving them ample time to wind down from the day is exactly what they need because usually when bedtime rolls around, their little minds are running downhill on fumes, and they need something to help them stop and calm down. Some things I suggest are:
Eliminating electronics 1.5-2 hours before bedtime *most important
Dimming the lights an hour before bedtime
Quiet play for 30 minutes before bedtime