Updated: Feb 6, 2021
I've had a lot of questions about toddlers lately, and so I want to dedicate a blog post or two towards these cute, feisty, and challenging creatures!
Okay, so let's get to it!
Bedtime It's the glorious part of the day when you can finally say "PJ time!!" and bounce to your child's room as you know that soon you'll enjoy some alone time.
But for some parents, bedtime is the opposite and is a bit (or a big) struggle. Below I'll give you some quick points on how to have a successful bedtime:)
1) Crackdown on the routine!
Yes, you heard right. There is probably something going on in your toddler's routine that just isn't helping. If you haven't figured it out yet, toddlers like to push boundaries, ask for more snacks, more stories, and more cuddles. In theory, this doesn't sound too bad, except that in real life it means an hour-long routine and countless requests and story time that never ends. Maybe that doesn't bother you, and that's okay! But in case that isn't your jam, then keep reading.
I suggest that a toddler's routine be no more than 30 minutes for several reasons:
Longer gives them too much wiggle room to ask for more
It's tiring and can be more frustrating vs. enjoyable
They can miss their sleep window and become hyper
Some other boundaries that I suggest to parents are to keep things in order and do the same routine every time.
For example, if you offer a snack before you do PJs and brush their teeth, then you won't get the post teeth brushing request for a bedtime snack.
If you have a 3 book maximum at bedtime, then you can keep the storytime to a reasonable amount of time and end the constant requests for more books. Ask your toddler to pick out 3 books (to get them involved) and stay firm in the 3 book rule.
Oh, the dreaded consequences. As parents, we would far rather give rewards than dish out consequences, but it's a part of life as a parent and we just can't avoid it.
When it comes to consequences, I am a fan of a consequence that can be implemented right away vs. tomorrow. It tends to be more effective and then you don't have to continue dealing with the issue the next day.
Let's say during bath time, your child doesn't want to clean up the toys and get out of the tub. An easy to implement consequence, that doesn't involve the parent getting upset, is to say that they won't get books at bedtime. It's easy and you can follow through right away.
Let's say that your toddler won't settle down when you are trying to tuck them into bed. This one is tricky as you're already done all the steps of the routine and are running out of things to take away. But, this can be the time to give one warning and if they don't settle down, you'll take their stuffy/lovey away. It's unpleasant for them to have their favorite stuffed animal taken away but it tends to be effective, which is what we are looking for when it comes to consequences.
3) Consequences 2.0
Okay, so they've settled in their bed, you're saying good-night, you've left their room and are starting to settle in to enjoy your favourite show and you hear a "Mommy!" at the top of the stairs. Sigh.
You turn around and see your toddler standing there, asking you for one thing or another. You put them back to bed and leave again, just to have them come out of their room.
This is a common and very frustrating situation for a lot of parents and it often leads to a lot of threats and/or negotiating...
So here's what you can do:
The first time they leave their room, you bring them back, remind them they need to:
Stay in bed
Then you leave again. If they don't follow the above rules, you put them back to bed and tell them you're going to lock the door.
So what you're actually going to do is hold their door shut for 1 minute. There will most likely be a protest, and that's okay, it's literally 1 minute.
Then open the door, put them back to bed, remind them of the rules. If they don't cooperate, tell them you're going to lock the door again and this time hold it for 3 minutes. Repeat.
Add 2 minutes to every time you have to leave and 'lock' the door.
There will be protests. There might be crying. They might through their stuffy.
In all of it, you remain calm and continue to remind them of what's expected of them. They will eventually get it:) The good news is that toddlers are smart and when you stay consistent, good things will come of it! ... Are you thinking that you might need more help with your child? If you're curious about what that could look like and how my 1:1 approach could help your family, click the button below to get in touch.
I'd love to hear from you, Chat soon! Melody Patton