If you are constantly dealing with power struggles and tantrums when bedtime comes around, you aren’t alone! In today’s episode, I discuss my top 3 tips to help you deal with your toddler’s bedtime battles.
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Hey there, you’re listening to the, My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.
All right. So I want to share some of my top tips and strategies for those of you that might be dealing with some bedtime battles with your toddlers and preschoolers. It’s a common situation, you know, to have a Jew year old, a three-year-old a four-year-old or five-year-old going in. I don’t want to go to bed or I don’t want to end the bath. Then it’s just kind of this constant power struggle day in and day out. And that’s exhausting. And I want you to know that there are absolutely strategies and tips that you can implement that can make your bedtime process so much more peaceful and manageable for everyone, because, you know, you want it to be an enjoyable time of day. You know, the last thing that you want is to find yourself dreading bedtime, going, oh my gosh, here we go. Here’s, you know, another battle finding yourself, literally pulling straws with your husband, like who, who is going to put the little ones to bed tonight because it’s just not fun.
So let me talk through some of my, my top three strategies that I love to utilize. Or when I say strategies, I mean more like tools or tips or tricks that I find can really help make the bedtime process so much easier for everybody. So the first thing that I would love to talk about is just having a routine down pat, to begin with and make sure that it’s a fairly consistent one. So a lot of parents will tell me that they have a bedtime routine, but that it tends to get out of control so quickly, meaning they put the child in the bath and then he never wants to get out or they read stories. And the first couple stories are wonderful, but then the child just keeps asking for another story and another story and another story, or they’ll have a bedtime routine that involves singing bedtime songs before they go to sleep.
But the child never wants the songs to stop. And so I am a big fan of having boundaries around some of these steps so that your little one knows exactly what to expect, age appropriate boundaries, but boundaries, nonetheless. So for example, if you’re finding that story, time is one of those things that just takes forever because your little one just keeps asking for more and more stories. Then I might suggest having a set number of stories that you have as part of your bedtime routine, no matter what, by hook or by car. So pick a number, pick a number of stories that you’re comfortable with. It’s two, whether it’s three and then I would stick to it like glue. Remember you’re likely going to get pushback at first. You’re a little, one’s not going to be happy if she is used to bugging you for more stories and getting what she wants in the name of delaying bedtime.
And then when suddenly you’re saying, no, this is not going to fly anymore. It’s only natural that she’s going to be upset. And so you can support her throughout that whole process. But I would still remain very, very firm because when day in and day out there is that consistency around the number of stories that she gets. Then that’s when, and only when you’re going to find the power struggles around that story, around that, that, um, part of your routine stop only then if sometimes you’re consistent and you say, no, no, no two stories only. And then other times, even once here and there you say, okay, fine. I’ll give you a third story. There is enough kids out there that aren’t going to get the message very, very clear to them saying that if I tantrum, if I put up enough of a fight, then it’s going to be worth my while.
And so they’re going to continue to put up a fight day in and day out. And you don’t want that. So remain consistent through and through. If you find that your little one always wants to tell you something before the time to go to sleep or always has something to share or has questions to ask, then I would say, let’s build that in to the routine so that your little one has ample opportunity to be able to let’s say, lie in bed right before he goes to sleep, ask you any questions, share with you any stories that he wants to share, but we need to put a limit around that. And that actually brings me to my next piece of advice regarding making the bedtime routine go as smoothly as possible and eliminating these power struggles. I am a huge fan, huge fan of using timers with kids, whether or not it’s an actual physical live timer, even an hour glass, you know, was sand.
Those are fine. There was all kinds of kid-friendly timer apps that you can download. And the reason why it’s so great is because it, when you tell your child that we’ve got five minutes until it’s time to get out of the bath or five minutes of talking and sharing stories from the day or asking questions before it’s time to go to sleep, your child doesn’t specifically understand what five minutes is. They understand that it’s a fairly short period of time. They understand that it means soon I will be going to bed, but without something black and white that can show them that five minutes is up. They’re not going to necessarily understand. And so this way you can almost put the blame on the timer and you can say, you know, I’m sorry, Johnny. I know that you want to, you know, ask me more questions, but the timer is up.
And so now it means it’s time to go to sleep. And, and now it means that I will see you in the morning and you can share more with me, you know, in the morning, if, and I find that using that tool, whenever your child struggles to transition from one activity to another is really, really helpful. So even if your little one is playing downstairs and doesn’t want to go upstairs and start the bedtime process, then use the timer, give them a warning in five minutes, it’s going to be time to go to sleep. And at least this way you’ve got something black and white that can show them what exactly five minutes is so that we don’t have to worry about them thinking that you’re just pulling something out of thin air, oh five minutes is up. It’s time to go to sleep. Well, no, you can show them.
You can show them on your phone. You know, exactly when it is time for them to be going upstairs and they can’t, they can’t fight with the timer, right? So this way you’re taking the blame off of you and putting it on the timer. If your little one struggles with the bath, he goes in the bath and doesn’t want to come out again. You give him that five minute warning or 10 minute warning. Um, you know what, whatever it is that you find is going to is going to help with that. The third thing that I am a huge, huge fan of is having a charts outlining each step of your little one’s routine, because many, many children are visual learners, right? And it’s sometimes not enough for some of these kids to just know, and just hear that first comes, the bath then comes pajamas, then comes, you know, brushing their teeth.
It can be hard for them to remember. They don’t know for sure. And then of course, and then, and of course they don’t want their favorite steps to end. And then that’s when you can sometimes cause a bit of it can cause a bit of a power struggle. So I would recommend for those kids, for those, for those of you who have kids that are likely visual learners. And I would say the majority probably are having some kind of visual charts outlining each step. So when it’s bath time, you know, you’d write bath and then maybe have like a visual of an actual bathtub so that your little one knows, okay, it’s time to get into the bath. Next step might be pajamas. So have a visual of, of actual pajamas. If the next step is teeth brushing, have a visual say, you know, time to brush your teeth followed by a picture of a toothbrush.
So that again, your little one can see exactly what the routine is. And then that’s going to allow him to thrive. A lot of people think that we do our children, a disservice by being so, you know, strict or rigid when really the reality is that this is what allows them to thrive and reach their potential. When of course the routine has to be age appropriate, but when they know what’s going to happen next and they know what to expect, it gives children a certain sense of security because they, it makes them feel safe knowing that there is someone else looking out for them and that they are not stuck navigating this scary world completely 100% on their own. And sometimes, you know, with kids, we do them a little bit of a disservice by being too lax and not having enough structure and routine in place.
And then what can cause the power struggle is when they’re trying to figure out where that boundary is, because remember the healthy boundary is what helps them feel secure. And so they’re desperately trying to navigate and figure out where that boundary is and when they don’t feel that boundary, it can make them feel a little bit anxious. So I, that should take any amount of mom guilt that you might feel around having a routine down. Pat, that might be a little bit more strict than what you’re used to, because remember, this is what’s going to allow your little ones who really, really thrive when they know exactly what’s going to happen next. So to summarize, I am a huge fan of having a consistent, predictable bedtime routine where some of those steps might need to involve having limits. So your little one knows what to expect.
I am a massive fan of using timers for those of you that have little ones that are constantly asking for one more minute, one more minute, one more minute, you use the timer. And then we know that the time is up. And then for those of you that have visual learners, which as I said is probably the majority of you having a visual charts, a routine charts laying out exactly what happens next is really going to help bedtime go so much more smoothly. So I hope that this was helpful and that you all have a wonderful day. Take care
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