Toddlers are amazing little humans. When their speech and thought ability develops, their personality really starts to shine. However, they also become more creative in their stalling tactics. It’s fascinating what toddlers think up of in order to get out of bedtime.
What can be done to circumvent these boundary-testing bedtime battles?
I am sure that you have many stories about how your cute little one somehow extended bedtime to over an hour, but I thought I’d share a few stalling tactics from the toddler’s perspective.
Lessons from a Toddler on Stalling Tactics
- The Streak!
As soon as mom or dad has removed your clothes in an attempt to put on some PJ’s, tt’s time to squirm away and run as fast as you can around the house in your birthday suit. If your mom finally catches you, pull out the ragdoll move – pretend your muscles don’t work, go limp and you’ll magically triple your weight.
- “I’m thirsty!”
Just as you’re tucked into bed, ask for a cup of water. Or wait until your dad has just closed the door and express that you’re thirsty. Even better, find a new appreciation for that vegetable that you wouldn’t eat at dinner. Mom or dad can’t refuse a request to eat green beans.
- Negotiate for one more story!
First, take your time picking out just the right book for bedtime. And make sure it’s a thick one. When your mom is done reading, ask for one more book, one more song, or one more cuddle before being tucked in. If your mom insists on only ONE cuddle tonight, ask for two and extend your bottom lip a little.
“How’d We Get Here?”
How’d we get to a point of hour-long negotiations at bedtime?
Toddlers are endless boundary testers. They’re at the developmental stage where they’re exploring being able to think for themselves. So, boundary testing actually starts out innocent as they’re just trying to figure where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have in this relationship.
When I have my initial consultations with the parents of a toddler, there’s usually some kind of amusing story surrounding bedtime. They’ll tell me, sometimes a little sheepishly, about how their toddler is winning the bedtime battle. The parents will end up looking at each other wondering how on earth they got to this point of five stories, a cup of milk, and ten kisses later.
And it always happens the same way… a little bit at a time.
Toddlers 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. They’ll try to convince you that one more story will help them get to sleep easier.
Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants.
The Simple Solution to Overcome Toddler Stalling
So, how do we become the authority at bedtime? Here’s the simple two-step solution:
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
- Never deviate from it.
That’s it. It’s that simple.
Simple doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Your toddler is still going to ask, complain, and want one more kiss before bed. Stand firm and if you stay on track, your toddler will quickly learn that their bedtime routine isn’t up for negotiation.
The Benefit of a Simple Plan
It may seem harsh that you’re not giving into one more hug or one more kiss, but your consistency actually benefits your toddler. As toddlers grow and develop, they find comfort and security from consistency and knowing that their parent is in charge.
If toddlers don’t have any sense of direction or authority, their sense of security and confidence quickly fades.
Additionally, a consistent, repetitive bedtime routine is 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 snooze.
And, finally, you’ll never have to explain to your friends, who’ve come over for a glass of wine, that you’ll be back down in an hour after putting down your toddler.
If you have any questions about what makes a great bedtime routine or how to get your little one to go to sleep on their own, we’d love to chat with you.