Eliminating bedtime tantrums

Bedtime tantrums can be a problem for young children. Many toddlers have so much they want to play with and explore that they’d rather not be “bothered” with issues like bedtime! Other children have tantrums at bedtime because they still want to spend time with mom or dad!

These nighttime tantrums can prevent your little one from getting enough sleep! The question is: how can you put an end to the bedtime tantrums so your toddler gets a good night’s sleep?

Tips to Help End the Bedtime Tantrums:

  • Have a Bedtime Routine: Young children need time to unwind and prepare mentally for sleep. Your nightly routine will begin the process of bedtime. Without it, bedtime may come as a surprise for your toddler, making it hard for him/her to get into a relaxed mindset ready for sleep.
  • Reduce Stimulation: If your toddler seems to be melting down at bedtime in uncontrollable fits, s/he may be overstimulated. Try to limit your child’s activities an hour before bedtime to ones that are not overly stimulating. Certain activities may be calming and relaxing to one child, while being overly stimulating to another, so it’s important to pay attention to what stimulates your child and limit those activities to earlier in the evening.
  • Spend Quality Time Together During the Day: This is especially important if it seems like your toddler’s tantrums happen because s/he wants to spend more time with you. Besides just playing with your little one, try to find ways to include your child in activities you need to get done, too.  Try letting your toddler help with chores, or letting him/her do an activity at the table while you prep dinner and talk together. Eat meals together as often as you can, too! Then, at nighttime, your toddler may not feel the need to throw a tantrum to get that extra time with you.
  • Talk about Your Expectations Ahead of Time: Instead of focusing on what you don’t want your little one to do at bedtime (tantrums), explain what behaviors you do want to see. Help your toddler understand what’s expected before it is bedtime, so s/he has time for these expectations to sink in. Remember to talk about bedtime protocol frequently to help keep the information fresh in your little one’s mind.
  • Give Your Toddler Some Options at Bedtime: Letting your toddler have some choices at bedtime can help ease the frustration of having to go to bed. This is especially important during the “terrible twos”. Some examples of choices a toddler could make at bedtime are choosing whether or not his/her bath has bubbles, choosing his/her pajamas, choosing which bedtime story is read, etc.
  • Make “Good Night” Fun: You want to leave your child on a good note. After hugs and kisses try to make even turning out the light fun. Maybe do a countdown before turning out the light, or have your toddler say a “magic word” before the light goes out. You could even wait to turn off the light until your child points to it and makes a special sound effect.
  • Give Your Child a Comfort Object: Some children find going to sleep easier if they get to sleep with a favorite stuffed animal or blanket.
  • Check on Your Toddler Frequently If S/He Seems Clingy or Scared At Bedtime: You want your toddler to feel safe and secure at night in his/her bed. If your toddler is upset when you leave the room, tell your child you’ll check on him/her soon. Come back in a few minutes and check on your child. Don’t turn this into a time for a long conversation. Simply allow your toddler to notice that you did, in fact, come back to check on him/her. After a few minutes, go check on your child again. If your toddler seems comfortable with the initial time intervals, wait longer before you check on him/her again.
  • Get a Night Light: If you suspect your child is having bedtime tantrums because s/he is scared of the dark then get a toddler-safe night light for your child’s room.

Consistency is Key

The most important thing to preventing bedtime tantrums is to stay consistent. Things may not get better over night, but as you consistently set your child up for success, the tantrums should eventually end!

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