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Home » Toddler

Getting Toddler to Bed – An Approach that Worked!

Submitted by on Sunday, 19 July 20092 Comments

Getting our toddler to bed is sometimes harder than his head.  To him, sleep is an unwelcome interruption of play.  Getting him to jump on the bed is much easier… I can do that effortlessly.  I’ve searched high and low, far and wide, East and West, for an easy way to get him to cooperate when it is time to go to bed, and I finally found the solution.  Because I’m so nice, I’ll share it with you here.

toddlerbedThis is an adaptation of an idea I got from reading The Parent’s Problem Solver, by Cathryn Tobin, which, by the way happens to be a great book.  You should read it if you haven’t read it already.  It offers a lot of great ideas to solve everyday problems that parents encounter with, well, parenting.

Before I go on, you need to know that our bedtime routine with our toddler, who I call Smarty Pants, is a multi-phased, well choreographed routine, of which the last two phases are a story (book), followed by a lullaby (song).  How my singing gets him to feel sleepy is beyond me, but that is besides the point.

So, now that you have the background, let me set the scene.

There we were, in his bedroom, him on his bed, telling me how badly he doesn’t want to go to sleep.  I was using the Parent’s Problem Solver approach of being persistent, and not focusing on telling him to go to bed, but to let him come to his own conclusion that it was time to go to bed.

Here’s how it went:

Smarty Pants:  “I don’t want to go to bed!”

Me:  “What book do you want to read?”

Smarty Pants:  “I don’t want to go to bed!”

Me:  “Pick out which book you want to read.”

Smarty Pants:  “No!”

Me:  “Which book do you want to read?”  (starting to sound a bit like my old Thriller album – i.e. a broken record for those of you who are a bit slow, or tired)

Smarty Pants:  “I don’t want to read a book!”

<okay, now pay attention… here is the real turning point in the story.  It is the point of the “pattern interrupt,” and the point where the dark clouds parted to let a small ray of sunshine through…>

Me:  “Okay, so then we’ll just sing a song.”  (matter-of-factly)

Smarty Pants:  (after a bit of a pause)… “No, I want to read a book too.” (caught him of guard there… did you notice?)

Me:  “Okay, which book do you want to read then?”

Smarty Pants:  “This one!”

Me:  “Okay, great, lets read it then!”

And we all lived happily ever after.  I read him his story, sang him his song, tucked him in, left the room, and shortly after, he was in dreamland.

I felt great after this little episode and found it to be a small victory that I had to share with all of you out there.  It was a combination of the persistent focus on reading the book, a great tip from the Parent’s Problem Solver, and a little “pattern-interrupt”  ala Tony Robbins.  It was my own idea to throw this little “pattern interrupt” in there.  I was inspired to do it because I have been listening to Tony Robbins’ “Personal Power II” lately.  It worked marvelously, as you can see!

So there you have it… if your situation is similar to mine, you might be able to give something like this a try.  The trick is, be persistent, ask your child a question that helps her to come to her own conclusion about what needs to happen next, and if you find yourself in a repetitive argument, like the one above, interrupt the pattern.

Hope it works for you too!  And as Tony Robbins says, “Live with Passion!”

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