Toddlers can be very challenging, yet very rewarding if you know what you’re doing! First of all, a child becomes a toddler around 1yr of age and it lasts until about 3yrs old, when he moves up to the classification of “preschooler”. While that time frame is often filled with temper tantrums, screaming, and flat-out not listening, it is also a time of great learning! Every day your child is working on learning more words, colors, shapes, ABCs, counting, walking, running, skipping, climbing, and much more! In order to do all of those things each and every day, your child needs the proper amount of sleep each night and a good nap each day (if they’re still napping).
It all starts with a great, predictable bedtime routine every night. We know that babies like schedules, but we often forget that toddlers like and NEED those schedules just as much! A great sample routine might look like this:
7:00pm Pajamas on, brush teeth, change diaper/go potty
7:15pm Read books/quiet play in room
A common complaint about toddlers is that bedtime is a battle. If your child is pushing the boundaries with you all day long, you can assume she’s going to do the same at bedtime. The best thing you can do is be consistent. Set your bedtime expectations, then follow through with either a reward, a consequence, or both. Examples of stall tactics that toddlers will commonly use:
-Hopping back out of bed (if in a bed)
-Asking for another kiss or hug
-Asking for a drink
-Asking to go to the potty
-Throwing her favorite lovey or blanket out of the crib so you get it
When those things happen, you’ll want to give a warning about what will happen if she doesn’t stop the unwanted behavior. Then, if it continues, you will need to follow through with the consequence you just threatened her with. For example, if she threw her lovey out of the crib to keep you in the room or have you come back in, then you warn her that if she throws it out again you’ll not be giving it back to her.
Initially, she will purposely throw that lovey back out just to see what you will do, but that will change once she knows you mean business. After she throws it that second time, you will leave it where it lands for as many minutes as she is old (i.e. if she’s 2 years old, then you would leave it out for 2 minutes). Same rules apply for each and every time she throws it out. You want to let her know that bedtime is non-negotiable and that you’re not fooling around.
Once she sees that it isn’t a game, she will probably not throw it again. If, however, you have a really stubborn toddler, she might need to actually go to bed without it and not be given it back again until morning to know you’re serious (though most times that’s unnecessary).
Anyone with a toddler (or two) will tell you that you need to pick and choose your battles. Sleep is one of those battles you need to choose to fight! You will have less bedtime battles with a child who is not overly tired. A consistent nap time and bed time will greatly improve the amount of battles you’ll have throughout the day, so make sleep a top priority in your house!
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