Parents, it is time to take back control.
Toddlers are amazing creatures. Seriously. I love watching them grow and develop. They go from baby to creative little people who are beginning to understand and think more deeply. It can be such a wonderful time to just watch and enjoy being with your little one. It is often a phase I wanted to freeze with my babies.
Of course, along with that creativity and new found intelligence, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing. A lot of opinions taking shape (which they are VERY vocal about) and this phase can be a frustrating experience. This rollercoaster just seems to be pretty standard with having little kids!
Toddlers and Bedtime
When I have my initial consultations with the parents of a toddler, there’s usually some kind of amusing story they have about bedtime. They’ll tell me about how their little one gets three or four stories at night, sometimes five, and then they usually ask for a glass of milk that they’ll only drink a few sips of, then they want to say goodnight in a very specific, drawn-out way, and the parents will end up looking at each other wondering how on earth they got to this point.
And it always happens the same way... a little bit at a time.
"Remember who is in control - YOU are in control - even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment."
Toddlers = Boundary Testers
Toddlers love to test boundaries. (plus they are smart). And they know that the one thing you want from them at bedtime is for them to go to sleep - so they’ll use that to their advantage. I know it sounds a little diabolical, but it’s their way of seeing where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have. See, smart!
So, one night they ask for a glass of milk, and the parents think, “What’s the harm?” The next night, they ask for a glass of milk and an extra story. A week later, they want a glass of milk, an extra story, and three hugs and two goodnight kisses. Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants.
Remember, YOU are in control
Ok, so don’t feel bad if this is you. It was me, too. It happens to so many good, wonderful parents like you. But now, you need to get back to the program of an easier bedtime. How do you do it??
Here is my super simple, two step solution to this issue:
1. Establish a short bedtime routine.
2. Never deviate from it.
That’s it. It’s that simple. I won’t kid you, sticking to the rules can be a challenge, because they’re going to ask repeatedly for what they want, test you big time, and most certainly complain (often in the form of screaming), but if you stick to your guns, they’ll understand sooner rather than later that the bedtime routine is not up for debate. I like to tell my parents, “Remember who is in control – YOU ARE – even if it doesn’t feel like it at the moment.”
Boundaries Make Kids Feel Safe
Toddlers take a great amount of comfort in knowing that you, the parent, are firmly in charge and are confident in your decisions. Boundaries give kids a sense of security. If you start allowing the child to make the decisions, they actually start to feel like they’re in charge, and that feeling that Mom and/or Dad knows what they doing starts to fade.
Plus, a predictable and repetitive bedtime routine is greatly conducive to a good night’s sleep. It signals the brain to start secreting melatonin and signals the body to start relaxing muscles in preparation for a restful, relaxing snooze.
I know this sounds a lot easier said than done. That is very true. But the biggest take away from this is that YOU ARE IN CONTROL and BE CONSISTENT. Stand your ground. Your toddler will likely cause a ruckus but it is a short term upset for long term bedtime bliss for everyone!
Not sure how to do this or need a little extra encouragement?? Contact me to set up a sleep plan – I will be with you every step of the way and won’t leave you until we have reached your child’s sleep goals.