Just when you think you’ve gotten past the frequent wakings and feedings of babyhood, toddlerhood and the preschooler years throw you a few curveballs. Nighttime fears and stalling tactics rear their ugly heads around this time in a child’s development. But there are ways to manage these disruptions so that the whole family can get a good night’s sleep.
Down, and Then Up Again!
You’re exhausted. It’s the end of the day, you’ve told a few bedtime stories and read a few books. You’ve arranged stuffed animals and given one last drink of water. After you’ve closed your child’s door, breathed a sigh of relief, and walked downstairs, you hear the door open right back up again with yet another request. Practice the art of the silent return, quietly leading your child right back to his bed without engaging, rewarding him positively, or acting in anger. Simply bring him back and leave, and he’ll soon grow bored of the routine.
We don’t mean a 6am wake-up. Some families endure wake-ups as early as 4am from their young children, meaning that both adults and children alike are not getting the amount of sleep they need to function and maintain good health. A quick fix, such as shortening your child’s naptime, may help. But we know many families who have benefitted from a toddler clock that changes colors at a pre-determined time, telling a child that it’s OK to get out of bed and start the day.
Stalling Before Bedtime
One more glass of water. Another trip to the potty because of too many glasses of water. A hug. Another stuffed animal. One more minute of playtime. Help your child transition from playtime to bedtime by instituting a countdown which will let her know exactly when to expect that she’ll need to stop playing and head to bed. Think about putting up a sticker chart to reward her each time she goes to sleep without dawdling. You can even bore her to bed. Plan an activity you know won’t engage her before bedtime, which will allow her to calm down a bit and won’t be so hard to abandon for bed.
Kids have a lot of insecurity at this age when they’re alone in the dark of their room at night. Are there monsters in the closet? What is that shadow behind the teddy bear? Talk to your child calmly about her fears and in a way that is respectful of her fears, no matter how unfounded. Some families empower their kids with a “monster spray”, comprised of water and salt in a spray bottle, that kids can use to spray the monsters away. You can also make sure your little one’s room is well lit enough so that there’s very little mystery regarding what is around them!
Are you and your family experiencing sleep challenges at this age? Talk to us about them in the comments section. One of your fellow parents may have a trick or tip!