Four Ways to Win Bedtime Battles
By Jessa McClure
The coffee drips slowly into your "World's Best Mom" mug. You rub your eyes and grunt a good morning to your well-rested spouse. You've been up again dealing with your preschooler who just won't go to sleep and stay asleep.
Your frustration mounts each night that your child protests bedtime, and soon you give into her demands to watch TV or stay up just a little longer, hoping she will fall asleep on her own and you won't have to convince her to succumb to her heavy eyelids.
While bedtime battles can be draining and disheartening, experts say it is important to stay the course and find a routine that works best for you and your child. Here are some suggestions that might make your sleep time schedule a little easier:
1. Limit the chaos
With toddler tumbling classes, hectic work schedules, and errands to run, life can seem like it's on a conveyor belt. Your child could be feeling the pull of a chaotic lifestyle and taking his frustrations out on you at night. It's important to create a calm, chaos-free environment for your child if you want them to settle down long enough to close their eyes.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest giving your child a warm bath, saying bedtime prayers or playing some calming bedtime music before your little one heads off to bed. Find out what works best for your child and make the routine predictable.
2. Don't give into requests and fussing right away
If your child calls out in the middle of the night or shortly after you've put them to bed because they can't fall back asleep, try not to jump right up and come to their rescue. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests waiting a few seconds before responding to your child's requests.
Tell the child that you are there if they need you, but don't linger in their bedroom, giving them more opportunities to take advantage of your generosity.
3. Provide comfort items before you turn out the light
Sometimes a child's fears about being alone in their bed at night can be allayed by a simple comfort item like a teddy bear or a security blanket. Make sure the item is already in the child's room when it's time for bed, so they won't use the search for their favorite stuffed panda as a delay tactic.
The AAP reminds parents to make sure that every stuffed animal or blanket that accompanies your child to bed is safe. Look for loose ribbons, strings or buttons or other parts that could be potential choking hazards.
4. Stay the course
Fighting bedtime battles can be exhausting and time consuming. It might seem easier to just give in to whining and temper tantrums, especially when you're sleep deprived. But experts say the best thing for you and your child is to continue with a bedtime routine and hold your ground. Eventually, your hard work will pay off and you will find yourself looking forward to putting your child to bed.
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