After 3 1/2 weeks of returning Little Man to his bed, we conquered the war! If you read Part 1 of this series, you know that this didn’t happen without consistency.
- Consistent Routine
- Consistently Removing All Communication
- Consistently Returning the Child to Bed
Some kiddos don’t put up much of a fight at bedtime. But then there are those who are relentless. The above three key points made all of the difference with our spirited Little Man. But as promised, I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to share.
Create a Room that Promotes Sleep
I’ve been in children’s bedrooms that made me feel like I was at a carnival. All of the toys, flashing lights, overstimulating objects did anything but promote sleep. For this reason, we kept bedrooms pretty bare. A bed, dresser, and blackout curtains provided the atmosphere needed to promote good sleep.
Also, in keeping with a commonly heard phrase here at Parenting to Impress, parent with the end in mind. With bed time routines, this means establishing the expectation that electronics won’t be used in a child’s bedroom. Down the road, teens will know that they are expected to only use their devices in common areas.
Furthermore, it is especially important that children not use or watch electronics before bed. I’ve never read a study that refutes this.
Train When You Aren’t Tired
If possible, start training a child to stay in a bed during naptimes. You’re likely less tired in the daytime, and you can put forth the energy, attention, and consistency needed during the training phase. Reserve the crib for nighttime when your exhaustion is at its peak.
Check Day Time Activities
Sometimes a child battles bedtime because he truly isn’t tired or is overtired. In this case, evaluate your daily activities. While long naps are a blessing, they can disrupt bedtime. Also, make sure that the child is getting a lot of physical movement and exercise throughout the day.
A child who is overtired probably needs to go to bed earlier than usual. While this feel counterintuitive, when a kiddo is “wired but tired” try putting her to bed 30 minutes earlier than her normal bedtime.
With either situation, consider that according to the Sleep Foundation, 1 to 2-year-olds need 11-14 hours of sleep, while 3 to 5-year-olds need 10-13 hours.
Several months before transitioning to a bed, implement time-out moments. When the child makes a poor choice, say “uh-oh,” takes his hand, and walk him to a spot on the floor to sit for 1 minute per age (so a 2-year-old sits for 2 minutes, a 3-year-old for 3 minutes etc.). In our home, I made a box with painter’s tape on the tile floor so the child knew where to sit. Staying in one spot teaches the child to stay where he is placed. When a child knows you’ll be consistent with time-out, they know you’ll be consistent with bedtime. I sincerely believe this greatly helped pave the way for transitioning our kids to a real bed.
Catch It Quick
If possible, don’t let the child’s feet touch the floor once placed in bed. We began seeing huge success with Little Man when I stood in the doorway without him seeing me. As soon as he popped his head up off the pillow, I called out “lay down.” It was when he was given time to leave the bed, get a toy, or get into something that we had issues. Usually, it only took standing in the doorway for 10 minutes to end the battle.
Now you may be thinking, but Heidi said to remove all communication. Correct. But in this case, “lay down” is a one-liner like uh-oh and doesn’t provide the fuel to the fire.
Be a Team
One of the hardest parts of parenting is being a united front with your spouse. Bedtime routines are just the start of the teamwork. Together, think about what you want bedtime to look like. Is the child allowed to sleep on the floor? Does the child need permission to get out of bed to use the restroom? Get on the same page with these kinds of questions before you being training a child to stay in bed.
Maybe you’re child goes to bed/sleep just fine, but at some point during the night, she wakes up and makes her way into your room. Don’t cave just because you are tired. Return the child to bed and remove communication. Stay consistent throughout the night, not just at bedtime.
Trust Your Gut
Always go with your Dad/Mommy-instinct when you sense something it out of sorts. This is especially important for those kiddos who don’t normally get out of bed. And always do a “smell” check. Sometimes Little Man got out of bed because he had a very dirty diaper. I would get up too!
8 Tips to Get a Child to Stay in Bed
And there we have it! Eight tips that made a difference in our bedtime routine. Before I close, there is one more point that I want to make.
The enemy is looking to kill, steal, and destroy, and families are at the center of his target. One of the ways that he particularly works is in exhaustion and busyness. Now, I am in no way stating that if your child doesn’t stay in his bed that it will destroy your marriage. But, being married almost 25 years now, I know that putting our kids to bed at 7:00 and enforcing this bedtime allowed my husband and I to have time together. And if providing you with these simple tips helps provide you more time to focus on your marriage, praise be to God.
This week of Thanksgiving I want to thank you for being a faithful follower of this ministry. Whether you us the ABCJesusLovesMe Preschool Curricula, enjoy the plethora of Thanksgiving and Christmas ideas, or listen to the Parenting to Impress podcast, thank you. We are grateful for you!