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Do you dread bedtime with your toddler? Are you dreaming about sipping your favorite beverage, reading a book or watching a show while your toddler is tucked in his bed and in a deep sleep? Sounds so nice, right? Then, reality slaps you right in the face! Your child is in full blown tantrum mode and refusing a nap or to go to bed. Do you want to know the easiest way to stop toddler tantrums at bedtime?
The Easiest Way To Stop Toddler Tantrums At Bedtime
Honestly, this can work with 5 year old tantrums, 7 year old tantrums, etc. The technique is the same. Tantrums often happen when children are frustrated, exhausted or want your attention. As a parent, the type of tantrum doesn’t matter at the moment because they are all frustrating and exhausting to us! Right?!? There are times I watch my sons have a tantrum and I feel physically and mentally exhausted afterwards. When that happens I take 10 minutes to help refocus before doing anything else.
I am sure you have heard the saying “kids need structure.” It is true and it applies here.
That structure comes in the form of his bedtime routine and schedule. Your child will have less tantrums when you set a schedule, have a routine and are consistent. I can’t say this enough but you can’t do only one of these steps. It is so important to follow all 3. Once you do this your toddler tantrums at bedtime will be gone!
Set a schedule
Setting a nap and sleep schedule is important. This gets trickier when you have more than one child but I promise, it’s possible! I have 3 boys and was worried when I had my 3rd. It worked but I had to be more flexible and creative. Our little guy has less tantrums especially at nap and bedtime. I consider my 3rd son a strong willed child who is easily triggered and I am still able to get tantrums to a minimum…at least at nap and bedtime.
Figure out your schedule for naps and bedtimes and stick to them. Find out how much sleep your child needs. Sleep is crucial! Please, please, please, don’t skip on naps! This is especially true for babies but it’s also true for toddlers. I have worked with many parents who thought if they kept their child up they would be more tired at night and sleep better. That is the furthest from the truth. Schedule, routine and consistency is the key.
Setting a schedule when they are babies will set the expectations for when they are toddlers, preschoolers, school aged, etc. This will also make transitions (big and small) easier for you and them. If you weren’t big on having a schedule or routine it’s not too late. It may take a little longer to settle into the new schedule but I promise it will work if you are consistent.
Create a Routine
Now that you have a schedule it’s time to create a routine. This is the process before you put them to bed. No matter how big or small, have a routine. I will be the first to admit, I don’t do long routines for bedtime or nap time. Once that magical hour has come around I am ready to have some ME time! I don’t want a long drawn out routine.
My routines are super short and simple. It doesn’t include bath time or reading! I know, I’m a horrible mom. Often times you will see those associated with a bedtime routine. I choose not to. Of course, I bathe and read to my children, it just isn’t part of the nap or bedtime routine. We do this during the day. It works better for us. Again, do what works for you and your family.
Our routine consists of cleaning up toys in the play area (which is our living room!), putting on pj’s, brushing teeth, going potty (or changing the little guys diaper), getting water bottle for bed/nightstand, saying goodnight to everyone, putting on music (rockabye baby lullabies are my absolute favorite!! We have so many!), tucking them in and walking out of the room. That’s it! Sweet dreams
Once you are starting the routine, it is also important to give them choices. This makes them feel like they have some control. Remember, you are setting the schedule for naps and bedtime, that is not negotiable! Give them a choice in what book to read, what show to watch, song to listen to, or what pj’s to wear. It gives them a sense of control and independence.
Another tip is talk them through the routine. Give them a “heads up” to what is happening next. For example, you can say, “We are going to start our bedtime routine in 10 minutes.” Then you can give them each step throughout the routine.
“Time to clean up and get ready for bed.” (Make cleaning up a game. Usually works much better than just telling them to clean up.) “Who can put the books away the fastest?” (This almost always works for my boys. Everything is a competition! You would think they would be tired of this…but, nope!)
“Let’s go get our pj’s on. Which ones would you like to wear tonight, baseball or dinosaurs?” (give them a choice of 2, this eliminates too many choices and long drawn out decision making)
“Time to brush our teeth and go potty. Who can get to the bathroom first?”
“Don’t forget your water bottle.” (We always, even for our toddler, have a water bottle for each of the boys at bedtime and naptime. They know it goes next to their bed or on their nightstand. I always use one that is leak proof and without a straw. A sports cap style seems to work best for us. I really like this one. They can get a sip of water if needed. Again, this gives them a small sense of control and independence. They understand if they abuse it or get up to use the restroom too often the water bottle is taken away. This doesn’t work for everyone. It hasn’t been an issue for us.)
“Everyone say goodnight, give hugs and kisses.”
“Time to get into bed” (or I put the little guy in the crib.)
“Time to pick a song” (I actually let my little one pick the first song. We have a playlist that is set up with about 80 songs. It is of all our Rockabye Baby Lullabies. We got a few different Rockabye Baby Lullabyies for a baby shower gift. It was one of our favorite gifts! Great idea for the future mammas out there!)
My older boys share a room and we turn AM radio on. They like to listen to sports. They love baseball season but will listen to anything! It works great. We weren’t sure if they would stay up listening but I think it helps them fall asleep.
“Love you, see you in the morning!”
This takes a total of 20 minutes and the boys are usually asleep in about 10-20 minutes once they are in bed.
Last, but definitely not least, be consistent! Follow through on your schedule and routine. It is also helpful to set up expectations from the beginning. You determine the rules and let them know what those are from day one. We told all our boys before they were speaking what the expectations were. I had friends laugh at me because the boys didn’t understand what we were saying. It was true, they didn’t understand at first but when you have a set schedule, a routine and are consistent, they learn quickly!
Maybe you had the schedule but not the routine, maybe you just weren’t consistent. Either way, if you’d like your toddler tantrums at bedtime to disappear follow these 3 steps. You will be amazed at how quickly it works.
It’s not too late. Even if you are dealing with a 5, 6, 7 year old or even older. The key is consistency! Have I said that enough?!?
Steps To Stop Toddler Tantrums at Bedtime
- Set a schedule
- Create a routine
- Be consistent
Happy nap and bedtime!
Let me know if you have any questions or what successful steps you use. I’d love to hear from you.