The struggle is real. Usually it’s the transition to the toddler bed that starts it and they come get mom and ask for ten thousand things to avoid sleep and maintain attention. So how do we force our kiddos to stay in bed so we can actually relax? Try these helpful tips:
One of the pre-bed activities many pediatricians recommend is tracing shapes, letters, etc. on the child’s back before bed. It sounds a little wacky but it’s supposed to calm the child down and help them focus on their body. When your child is paying attention to how they are physically feeling they will be more likely to also mentally feel tired.
There are little alarm clocks you can get for your child that have a green and green light on it. When the light is green it means get up it’s time to play! When the light is red it means stay in bed. This is a simple system that works great for children who need to understand the concept of night time/ nap time is for staying in bed.
Reward systems are great incentives for cleaning up, doing simple chores and good behavior; it can also work for bed time! For parents who have children that are also potty training try a token system. Your child gets 1 or 2 ‘tokens’ (fake coins, poker chips, etc.) and if they need to get out of bed for reasons other than the potty they have to ‘pay’ to get up. Potty trips that don’t result in anything other than a conversation about Thomas the Tank cost a token- that helps combat ‘fake’ bathroom visits. Any unused tokens go into the jar in the morning which can be applied to a prize (toy, trip to the park, etc.). With a bit of helpful questioning “Are you sure getting that toy downstairs is worth a token?” your child will soon catch on that each token has a value.
Baby gates. Your child is locked in their room where they are safe but the door itself isn’t locked. You can still see him/her and talk to them as needed. While at first this may seem like ‘caging’ your child, remember you just had them in a crib and this is really no different! When your child was in a crib they had clear boundaries of where they could go, once they are transitioned into a bed those boundaries are a little more fuzzy. The gate will help your child understand their new ‘territory’ and make the transition less overwhelming.
If all else fails try boring your child into submission. The idea is you give your child an option; you can either stand here in this really boring area with no toys or go to bed; what do you want to do? They can go to bed whenever they want to as long as they understand those are the only two options. The idea is; it’s better to just lay quietly in bed than stand around doing absolutely nothing. Again, this is totally not a time out, and that should be explained to the child. It’s just allowing them to choose to go to bed for themselves by giving them a less desirable other option.