When it comes to getting a toddler to stay in their room and sleep all night, you may find yourself pulling out all sorts of pleas, bribes and negotiations. You may also find yourself frustrated that they climb into your bed at night or wake up at 5 am asking for a snack, TV, or whatever. So someone suggests you buy a toddler clock! Great! You get it set up and explain to them that they need to stay in bed until the light turns green, or the sun comes up, etc. And guess what? They still show up in your room or climb into your bed.
Why? Because they don't give two *you know what's* about this clock says, unless you give them a reason to.
So here are a few tips for success when it comes to a toddler clock!
1. Talk about it!
Talk about how they need to stay in their bed until the light turns/sun comes up and why! They will feel better when they sleep, you get to feel good because you as the parent get to sleep, and they can have a good day knowing they rested their body. Talk about how it's still nighttime before the clock changes and how we all sleep at nighttime. 2. Bedtime routine images Take a few minutes and print out some images of your child's bedtime routine, including them staying in their bed all night until the clock changes. Talk about the images in the daytime and reinforce that part of feeling good is staying in bed all night and waiting for the daytime to start. 3. Give them a win If your child typically gets up at 5:30 am, start by setting the clock for 5:45 am. I know that's still early and trust me, I don't want to start my day at that time either. BUT, giving your child a small win will help build internal motivation to do well. When they can feel proud that they stayed in their bed all night until the clock changes, they will feel good about it and want to continue to do so. Then every few days, change the time of the clock by 10-15 minutes so that your child stays in bed later and later. P.s. the earliest I've ever had a client set a clock was 5 am...yes, 5 am. We made it to 6:30 am and the parents were ecstatic about that wake-up time! 4. Consequences Okay, you probably were wondering about what to do when they don't listen to your instructions to wait for the clock. Well, there has to be some sort of consequence for not following the rules. So here's what you can do: Walk them back to their bed and be SUPER BORING. Don't engage in a lot of conversation, offer water, etc. Back to bed, tuck them in, and remind them of the rules (stay in bed, wait for the clock)
Walk them back to bed in a boring way and stay in the room until they fall asleep and if they don't want to stay in bed, you leave the room for a short interval of time.
Walk them back to bed in a boring way, tuck them in, and tell them you'll come to check on them in a minute. Do a couple of checks when they are staying in bed (positive reinforcement) until they are asleep.
There are several other strategies that can be done, but these are my first ones to try! 5. Celebrate! Once they stay in their bed all night and wait for the clock, celebrate with them in the morning! It can be a little dance party, jumping up and down, positive affirmations, and asking them how it feels to have stayed in their bed all night! All this to say is that toddlers are tough and a clock is most likely not going to fix everything. You need a few strategies to come together to help your toddler feel confident staying in their bed all night, and listening to the rules:) … I've been working with a client who's almost 4 years old and has never slept in his bed all night. I'm happy to report that with some effort, he's sleeping in his bed all night:) If you have a toddler that isn't sleeping well, it's not too late for you! Click here to book a call to find out how I can help you get your toddler sleeping in their bed all night! Here for you, Melody Patton