I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and here’s to all the best in the new year to all of you. This week, I’ve got some tips for everyone who’s dealing with a toddler who’s fallen into a habit of pitching a fit at bedtime. See you in 2016!
First of all what you want to have a look at is timing. A lot of people, a lot of people are putting their children to bed too late, and if you do that then they’re going to be overtired which will most likely lead to a meltdown. Now the tricky thing about toddlers is they don’t tend to show their fatigue in the same way adults do.
A lot of toddlers when they get into over tiredness become actually hyper active. They usually become pretty animated and cute and it’s easy for you to think, “She’s not tired I’m going to wait, I’m gonna leave it another half hour” and so on. Pretty soon you’ve got a situation now where your child is so overtired now that they really can’t cope and they’re just going to have a meltdown.
A great toddler bedtime is anywhere between 7 and 8 pm, depending on if they’re napping, if they’re not napping, but you really want to catch it before that sets in. If you do it’s going to make that transition into nighttime sleep much easier. Another thing about toddlers is they don’t like surprises. They like to know what’s happening, They like things to occur in the same order, they like some predictability in their life. I would suggest that you give a warning that in two minutes we are going to go up for bath time and start out bedtime routine. Give them a little bit of a prep that bedtime is going to begin.
Another place where toddlers have meltdowns is around bath time. Most love to get in the bath, they love to have fun in there and don’t worry if they’re having a great time, it’s perfectly normal for a child to have fun in the tub. Set a timer for about 10 minutes and say when the bell rings we’re going to get out of the tub, and make that the rule. Now it’s not your fault that she has to get out of the tub, it’s the timers fault. If on the first time or two she still protests this you get her out of that tub regardless. Rules are only rules if they are rules right? You really have to follow through and if it’s a bit of a battle that’s fine. The good news is the more that this occurs, the more she will understand that there’s really no negotiating this timer business, and she’ll start getting out of the tub in a cooperative manner, which is lovely.
Another place is brushing teeth, a lot of toddlers don’t like that, and I had … This is a non-negotiable for me, you have to brush your teeth, we can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way. The easy way is you open your mouth and mummy brushes your teeth and then you can have the toothbrush and you can brush your teeth and then we’re done.
The hard way is you fight me and cry, mummy has to hold you down and open your mouth and brush your teeth with you crying and it’s no fun for either of us but it’s happening regardless. Right? If you start saying that, easy way or hard way, your child is clever enough to understand the difference. Soon enough they are going to pick the easy way and problem solved.
Something else, and this is the last tip. If you have a toddler who’s still fighting you through all these steps, even though you’ve got everything in place, story time can become a consequence. I used to say to my kids, if you can’t get all your chores done in a timely manner with a lot of cooperation there will be no story time. Again consequences for the behavior you don’t want are a great way to encourage the behaviors you do want.
Again, there were times they went to bed with no story and there might have been tears and oh well, because those are the rules. Again, the more you do this the easier it gets to get to a place where you just give a warning and say, “that’s one warning, if you don’t get your teeth done or get your jammies on, there will be no story tonight.” Watch them hustle to get things done. Alright, so timing, timers, easy way/hard way, no stories if you can cooperate, problem solved. Right?
There you go, meltdowns done. Thanks so much for watching, sleep well.
If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!