Parents of toddlers are familiar with the struggle that often erupts at bedtime. Many kids argue, throw tantrums or simply refuse to cooperate in an effort to delay going to sleep. The next time your child tries to avoid going to bed, try these tips to ease the transition.
Create a Routine
Kids need clear structure and rules even if they don’t act like that’s what they want. To make evenings easier, establish a bedtime routine and be clear about what you expect from your child. Rather than telling them it’s time to go to sleep right away, give them ten to fifteen minutes’ notice before starting the process. Give them something to look forward to such as a bedtime story as added motivation to get through the more mundane parts of the routine.
Making It Fun
Turning a bedtime bath into a chance to play makes getting cleaned up a game rather than a chore. When bath time is over, give your child the chance to choose between a couple pairs of pajamas that you’ve laid out. Then head over to the bookshelf and grab a favorite book. Let your child cuddle up with you as you read and make sure to engage them in the story. Point out pictures and ask questions to make the experience come alive. Reading at bedtime is a great way for both of you to unwind and spend quality time together.
Hugs and Kisses
At the end of the story, make it clear to your child that they need to go to sleep. It’s okay to take a few minutes to talk about the day or allow them to ask for something small like a glass of water, but then it’s time for lights out. Don’t forget to give your child a hug and a kiss before tucking them in. This makes them feel secure and reminds them how much you love them. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to say, “I love you,” for a little extra reassurance.
Once the routine is over, kids will want you to stay and can get very creative with ways to delay going to sleep. As hard as it can be to say no, consistency is key in setting the rules of bedtime. Let your child know you’ll check on him or her during the night, but stick to your limits to ensure hassle-free evenings in the future.