Ask An Author: Bedtimes

Posted by  | Thursday, August 20, 2009  at 9:01 AM  
Just wondering what kind of bedtime routine you all use to get your kids around this age to go to sleep! My 2 1/2 year old refuses to lay down in her bed by herself at night and go to sleep on her own. Once she is asleep...she stays that way all night, but it is a battle every night to get her to sleep.

I do think we have gone through periods where Will was more challenging at bedtime, but we have always try to stay consistent and not let the "I needs" take over. He knows what to expect at bedtime and rarely gets anymore. We do bath, pjs, bible story, song, prayer, lights out. It only takes about 20 minutes - less if we skip bath. He gets a stuffed animal - that stays on his bed so it always available for sleep - and music. We learned really quickly not to allow more than that...several days were spent searching for his Thomas the Train to sleep with him. I didn't want him to have a dependance on multiple items for sleeping or for him to think I'd search the house, car, diaper bag, etc. for that ONE toy he HAD to have.

I would say that if you have been clear about the bedtime routine and your expectations (that she stay in the bed) then it has become a defiance issue and needs disciplining as any other issue throughout the day. I would apply whatever disciplining you normally use to her refusal to obey your instructions at bedtime as well. If you're consistent, she will likely get the message that you mean business at bedtime as well as the rest of the day.

That said, we did go through a period around age 2.5 where Will did this at naptimes. I ended up having to remove all toys and books from his room everyday for naptime. Once I realized this was a becoming a BIG problem, I camped out next to his door (he didn't know this - I didn't tell him) and was able to immediately go in and correct him when he got out of bed. I still have a monitor in his room now so I can listen for him playing instead of sleeping and its simply something I decided not to allow in our house. He may quietly sing to his music, but no toys in bed during sleep times.

What made you decide to promote your child out of a crib into a toddler bed? How did you guys go about doing that and getting them to stay in the bed?

I needed the crib for baby #2! I did not transition Will out of the crib until around his second birthday. His sister was 3 months old and needed the crib. One day, we put the toddler bed together in his room. We let him see it for a day or two and talk about how it was his new bed. The next day, he asked to nap in it and did! I just told him he was to stay in bed and not to get out unless Mommy or Daddy came to get him. I left his crib in there for another day or so but he was fine and transitioned very easily. One thing we did do was put one of those safety knob covers over his door knob. This way he could not open his door and get out by himself. (I honestly don't think he's ever tried though!) It also prevents him from locking the door from the inside.

I think a lot of times we underestimate how flexible and adaptable kids are. We assume the transitions will be hard - and sometimes just assuming that ourselves makes them harder than they have to be!

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