Toddlers are very special, aren’t they? Watching their personalities start to develop is such a fascinating time, and one that parents often (not when they are drawing on the walls) wish would last a little longer.
During toddlerhood, we usually see a lot of boundary-testing, which can be a frustrating experience. Which is ohhhh so much fun, isn’t it?
When I have my initial consultations with the parents of a toddler, there’s usually some kind of amusing story surrounding bedtime. The most common ones are that their little one gets three or four stories a night, sometimes five, and then they usually ask for a glass of milk that they’ll only drink a few sips of, then they want to say goodnight in a very specific, drawn-out way, and the parents will end up looking at each other wondering how on earth they got to this point.
And it always happens the same way... a little bit at a time. The demands just creep further and further until you are down the rabbit hole of requests….
Toddlers love to test boundaries, and they know that the one thing you want from them at bedtime is for them to go to sleep, so they’ll use that to their advantage. I know it sounds a little cynical, but it’s their way of seeing where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have.
So, one night they ask for a glass of milk, and the parents think, “What’s the harm?” The next night, they ask for a glass of milk and an extra story. A week later, they want a glass of milk, an extra story, and three hugs and two goodnight kisses. Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants.
So, there’s a simple, two step solution to this issue:
1. Establish a short bedtime routine.
2. Never deviate from it.
That’s it. It’s that simple. Honestly, sticking to the rules can be a challenge, because they’re going to ask, test and complain, but if you stick with it 100%, they’ll understand sooner rather than later that the bedtime routine is not negotiable.
This benefits both of you, in spite of the fact that your little one might not agree. Toddlers take a great amount of comfort in knowing that you, the parent, are firmly in charge and are confident in your decisions. It gives them a sense of security. If you start allowing them to make the decisions, they actually start to feel like they’re in charge, and that feeling that Mum knows what she’s doing starts to fade.
Additionally, a predictable, repetitive bedtime routine is greatly conducive to a good night’s sleep. It signals the brain to start secreting melatonin and signals the body to start relaxing muscles in preparation for a restful, relaxing and blissful nights sleep.
And, finally, you’ll never have to explain to your friends how you have to have to make your Little Darling Eggs 'three ways' at ten at night in order for him to go to bed.
My passion is truly turning sleep deprived parents into well rested parents. Book in with me for a free sleep evaluation call to discuss the issues that you are facing and how I can get you on the road to better sleep...