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Toddler is a nightmare at bedtime

(4 Posts)
CarrotPuff Sat 13-Aug-16 23:08:43

I wasn't sure how to word the title a bit better. It's not the bedtime itself. He actually goes to bed alright. But within 5 minutes he'll start shouting for us, and if we don't come up he starts screaming. Then it's toilet/water/story/tuck in, etc. Occasionally he'll go straight to sleep but most of the time he won't.

He also wakes up 2-3 times a night with the same excuses. He does occasionally sleep through but that's rare.

He's 2.8. He's in his own bed and it was the same when he was in a cot.

He still has a nap. We've been limiting it to just an hour for a couple months now as he was waking up at 5-5.30. It's worked and he sleeps till 6-6.30 now, occasionally longer. It hasn't stopped bedtime shenanigans though or the night wakings.

I know some people will suggest cutting out the nap but I think he still needs it. Occasionally if we are busy doing stuff and there's no opportunity to nap he'll be fine all day, but other times he's an absolute wreck by the evening and goes into complete meltdown. Or if for some reason he has to nap later he gets increasingly tantrumy as he goes past his nap time.

Please help. I've realised today that it's been going on for a year now, with occasional better spells. We're at the end of our tether.

FATEdestiny Sun 14-Aug-16 00:03:56

I wouldn't recommend dropping the nap. Indeed even if not waking in the night, it's not unusual for an under 3 year old to still need an hour or two lunchtime nap. Given your DS is waking in the night, I suspect he is more likely to be over-tired than under-tired.

Definitely keep the nap. I would maybe work on making his sleep more routine, if it isn't already. So establish that he always goes to bed at the same time and has his lunchtime nap at the same time. At this age I would be expecting 1pm-2.30pm afternoon nap with a 7.30pm bedtime and 6-7am wake up.

The demands at bedtime - it is just procrastination. He's busying himself with unimportant stuff so that he can avoid doing the thing he doesn't really want to do: go to sleep. No different to me finding stuff to busy myself with to avoid having to do the ironing!

The key is to now allow any of his demands then deal with the screaming ab-dabs which will follow without giving in.

Develop a bedtime routine which includes several, repeated statements of fact and involves constantly saying what will happen next. Predictibility helps when tackling procrastination demands like your DSs.

Start off downstairs, 10 minutes before bedtime.

- "DS, we are going to have this drink of milk now, when it is done it will be bedtime"
- Give milk drink (or whatever you do as a trigger for it being nearly bedtime)
- Whilst drinking milk, discuss what happens next. "When you've done we will go upstairs together, have a wee, brush your teeth and wash your face".
- Go upstairs, get him to have a wee. Make a point of saying he is having his wee now so that he will not need one once in bed. When he's done weeing, double check - "are you sure you have pushed out all of your wee and wont need another wee at bedtime?"
- brush teeth and wash face. While doing this explain what happens next: "When we have done this we will be getting your PJs on, getting your beaker of water, having a story, then you will be staying in bed and going to sleep."
- While getting PJs on, repeat yourself like a broken record: "When we have done this we will be fetching your beaker of water, having a story, then you will be staying in bed and going to sleep."
- Give him a beaker of water so he cant complain he needs a drink. Explain that this will be the only drink he will get at night and that you will not be filling it up. (he could well start insisting on more drink at night, so be clear that he has a drink, he wont be getting any more).
- Pick a story book. before you read, repeat parrot-fashion the bedtime routine and get him to repeat it back to you what happens next:
- "we had a drink of milk downstairs, you had a wee, you brushed your teeth and washed your face, you got your PJs on and got a drink. Now we will have a story, then you will get into bed and go to sleep. You must be quiet and stay in bed. DS, what happens next?"
- Read the story.
- Get in bed. Repeat parrot fashion: "you had a wee, brushed your teeth, washed your face, you got your PJs on and got a drink. You had a story, I have tucked you in. No more wee's. No more drinks. You must be quiet, stay in bed and go to sleep.
- Don't procrastinate yoursef. Quick kiss, nan night, light off and nightlight on, leave.

If he creates, you now have an established mantra to repeat: "You must be quiet, stay in bed and go to sleep. Nan night". Leave. Just keep on repeating. Don't give in to any demands. If he creates additional 'needs' at night that you feel he does need, then make sure in future nights that need is always met at bedtime so that he doesn't need to shout you once in bed.

CarrotPuff Sun 14-Aug-16 01:06:26

Thanks, we'll try that!

FastWindow Sun 14-Aug-16 01:13:22

Well, that needs crystallising in MN lore.

FATE - thank you. Op- thanks for eliciting Fate's post. So bloody simple but there it is- toddlers+ can be very manipulative.

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