Bedtime Antics and Excuses for Toddlers and Children
Over the years I have heard many bedtime excuses,
“I am scared.”
“I am hungry.”
“I want to sleep in mammy’s bed.”
These are the words that every mother hears from their 3-year-olds at bedtime. Bedtime antics and excuses are a universal problem faced by all parents today. Parents spend about 20 minutes each night negotiating with their children to get them into bed.
Everyone Parent who lives with a toddler knows that they are smart, funny, strong-willed, obstinate and defiant. There are times when you cannot stop adoring them. But then there are times when they drive you bonkers. They are cute and adorable, but running after them all day, from changing their nappies to preparing and feeding them food and then putting them off to sleep, bedtime antics can leave parents tired and exhausted.
Toddlers are very quick in becoming experts in coming up with excuses to delay their bedtimes, and you will agree, at times they come up with the silliest ones such as “Mum, my brain has the flu.” or “Mum, I don’t want to get in my bed because I don’t want to have to make it in the morning.” All these excuses are funny, but irritate parents at times.
Why does toddler bedtime stalling happen?
Toddlers love their freedom. They love being on their own. They want to be a part of everything going around. This is why they are not willing to go to bed early. They do not want to be missing out on anything that may happen while they are sleeping.
Bedtime, for toddlers, is boring. There is no one to play around with, it is all dark, quiet and scary. All of this is what makes them come with the silliest of excuses to just to be able to stay up for a few extra minutes each night.
Managing your toddler’s bedtime antics is not easy. Of course, you will not want to upset them because you know that an upset or sobbing toddler will not fall asleep any time soon which can be frustrating. So, following these few techniques will help you make them go to bed without upsetting them.
Change their bedtime
If your toddler takes more naps during the day, they may not be tired to go to sleep early. So, you will have to put them to bed later until they have finally given up that afternoon nap. As your child grows older, their body may not require as much sleep as they previously required say a year ago. So, delaying their bedtime even by half an hour can be helpful in such a situation.
Do a count-down
Toddlers do not like bedtimes and the worst possible thing that you can do is surprise them with it. Therefore, the best thing to do is to start a count-down around about 30 minutes before you plan to make them go to sleep. The count-down will work as reminders that bedtime is nearing. It will also help to prepare their mind that they will have to go to sleep soon. Do not let them involve in any long and engrossing activity. This will make it hard for them to stop.
Routine and saying ‘goodnight’ to everything
Bedtime is the best time to connect with your child particularly if you have a tough routine during daytime and are not able to give sufficient quality time to them. While putting them to sleep, you can have some amazing conversations with them.
Going through your bedtime routine steps, remember to encourage them to say goodnight to everything they see before going to bed. Tell them that it is sleeping time for all of their things too, just like it is for them. This will help them feel a little better. If your toddler comes up with excuses such as they want to go to the bathroom or they are thirsty, again and again. You can let them know that their potty and thirst have also gone to sleep because it is sleeping time for them too.
Accept that it will take time for them to go to sleep
It is definitely going to take them time to navigate their way to dreamland and acknowledging this fact is only going to make you less frustrated. Feel good about it that it is going to be a good part of your evening as you will get to spend quality time with your young one.
Ensure that they have a good pre-bedtime routine
Bedtime antics and coming up with excuses is a discipline issue amongst toddlers. So, make sure that your toddler has had a healthy snack, drank their glass of water, visited the bathroom, and cuddled all their toys before getting into their bed. This will help you counter their excuses.
Talk to them
Talk to them about what you can do to make them feel more comfortable. While some may not be able to tell you, others may give you few very interesting and surprising answers.
Be a little flexible
Make a deal with them that as long as they stay in bed and do not call for you, they can do play with their sleepy toys or look at their story books. It is one way that works for most parents. However, in case it does not work for you, use your judgment to come up with a technique that works for your toddlers.
Bore your toddler to sleep
Despite the fact that you may be doing everything right, you may still be dealing with a staller. Always remember that once you have tucked your toddler into their bed, if you interact with them interact in the most boring way possible. Avoid making eye contact, and keep your voice dull. Make them feel that you are sleepy too. If your toddler wakes up because they have had a nightmare, love them and comfort them as much as you can, and try and make them go back to sleep again.
© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.