If there is one thing toddlers love is to test boundaries, and they 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. Do not worry, this is just their way of seeing where your boundaries lie and how much authority they actually have.
One night they might ask for a glass of milk, and the parents would think, “What’s the harm?” The next night, they might ask for a glass of milk and an extra story. A week later, they want a glass of milk, an extra story, and three hugs and two goodnight kisses. Little by little, these crazy bedtime routines get established, all according to what the toddler wants. Sound familiar?
Here’s a simple, two-step solution to this issue:
1. Establish a short enough bedtime routine: You do not need to spend a whole hour preparing your child to sleep. A good 20-30 minutes will be enough. Make this your special one on one time with your child though. No phones or distractions allowed. And do not rush it. This routine is the transition that your child needs to get ready for bed and wind down after a busy day.
2. Never deviate from it: Consistency is key when it comes to your child sleep, and that includes the bedtime routine. Whatever you do, be consistent and stay firm in your decisions. Limits are good for your little one, and it is you who should be setting them ;-)
Bedtime routines can help toddlers develop healthy sleep habits, which can benefit their physical and mental health. Establishing a set bedtime and sticking to it every night can help your child fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.
But setting clear boundaries at bedtime is important for toddlers for many other reasons:
It encourages independence - Bedtime routines and boundaries can help toddlers feel more in control and independent, which can boost their confidence and self-esteem.
It promotes good behavior - By setting clear bedtime boundaries, you can encourage good behavior throughout the day. Toddlers take a great amount of comfort in knowing that you, the parent, are firmly in charge and are confident in your decisions.
It helps with transitions - Bedtime routines can also help with transitions, as they provide a predictable structure that toddlers can rely on. This can help reduce anxiety and stress as toddlers move from being awake to being asleep.
Improves parent-child relationship - Consistent and fair bedtime routines can also improve the parent-child relationship by setting clear expectations and promoting mutual respect.
By setting boundaries in the bedtime routine you can help your child establish healthy sleep habits that will benefit them for years to come.
With this in mind, always remember that every child is unique and may require different bedtime routines and boundaries. Be firm but still open to making changes as needed. At the end of the day, isn’t that what parenting is all about?