Bedtime can be one of the most stressful times of the day to manage when you have little ones, especially as they get older and have learnt the fine art of negotiating. What should be a nice and calm end to the day, can turn into a 2 hours game of chess. You offer to read one book, they want two, you tuck them in gently, they need water. When you finally manage to get them down, all they want if for you to be close by and to stay with to them.
If you are noticing resistance at bedtime, the first thing you need to ask is if it’s reasonable to be asking them to sleep at this time? If they have woken from a nap anytime after 2/2:30 pm, then chances are they won’t be ready for bed until after 8pm. If it IS reasonable to be expecting them to sleep and they are just trying our their debating techniques, then there are a few tips and tricks you can use to get cooperation at bedtime.
3 tips for bedtime cooperation
1. Keep a consistent bedtime
Children thrive off predictability. By keeping a consistent pattern to the end of each day, they will know what to expect and will be more likely to follow. As mentioned earlier, this may mean ensuring that day sleep (or lack thereof) is monitored and adjusted accordingly. If you are unsure of what to expect with regards to feeding and sleep for this age group, be sure to visit our Daily Rhythms.
2. Make a mental checklist + cover each item off
As you start navigating bedtime with a 3-year-old, you will likely learn quickly the items that are typically on request. So make sure you meet those requests in the lead up to bedtime. 2x stories, sippy cup, toilet… by involving them in the process and letting them know you are giving them the things they need (want), then they are more likely to accept this as bedtime draws to a close.
3. Storytime + Meditation
Finishing the day off with a nice story or two is not only a great way to expose your child to language, it is something they will really enjoy. They will have your undivided attention and no doubt listen intently, especially if you use a lot of expression in your storytelling. If you find that your little one always wants more or is finding it hard to wind down, there are some great kids meditations out there. Simply download and leave it playing on a device. We still recommend doing this on your terms, so let them know it will be two meditation stories and then time for sleep.