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Help need ideas for stopping the bedtime battles
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17 replies to this topic

#1 Emma600

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:12 PM

Dear Lovely Mummies and Daddies,
We need help .... bedtime has become a disaster in our house. Our DD (3.5) has always been a good sleeper, even as a bub she went to sleep with a mimimum of fuss and slept all night most nights. But at around the age of 3 she started fighting us around bedtime. She no longer sleeps in the day (not since 2.5) and we've had the same routine since she was really small - dinner at 5.30pm, bath, into PJs, brush teeth, drink water, story, cuddles and tuck into bed.
Now ....
She doesn't want dinner
She won't have a bath
She fights us to brush her teeth
She tries everything to keep us in the room when we tuck her in .... asking for certain teddy bears, more stories, certain toys, draw her pictures, more food, drinks etc etc etc ...
If we give in and give her the things she asks for it just leds to more requests, if we say no she has a tantrum that winds up to such an extent that she can't seem to calm herself.
We are also trying to put her baby brother (1) to bed at the same time so we have to keep the screaming and yelling down otherwise it's impossible to get him to sleep.
Once she goes to sleep she usually sleeps all night without a problem .... but the 2 to 3 hours of screaming yelling crying and negociation that is so stressful and exhausting .
Anybody got any ideas ...... anything at all .... no idea too silly

#2 imamumto3

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:14 PM

what time does she go down at night?

#3 Natttmumm

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:21 PM

We get this at times too. So here's what we do assuming she is tired. If she's not tired it won't work.
We give her 10minutes warning of bedtime and say what toys, drinks, last snack does she need. We remind her once in bed we not giving her anything and she needs to be in her room quietly. We keep reminding his over the 10 minutes. If she asks for things once in bed we say no or ignore the calling out. She does tantrum and it goes on for a while but we just keep saying to her that when she calms down we can give a cuddle and bed. It sucks as DD1 is trying to sleep too but what else can you do.
We have some progress with most of the time DD2 does cry now. Probably once a week it's a full blown tantrum but we don't cave in because if we do she starts the next day again asking for food, drinks, toilet, toys, any excuse.
With the tantrums for bath and bed etc - I think that is just the age and I have no answers

#4 rob6712col

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:26 PM

Don't put her to bed at the same time as the 1 yr old. She needs to know she is the big sister and goes to bed after the the little one. Once you start to put the 1yr old down give your DD her 20 minute warning that bedtime is coming.  Once you have your little one asleep, sit on the couch with your DD and read a story together or watch a short show together. Then start teeth brushing etc and to bed.  She is vying for your attention as you are trying to do both together. She needs her own seperate bedtime and time with you to unwind.

We also changed bathtime to before dinner so that after dinner they can relax and play a little before having to brush teeth. We have baths starting at 5pm (3 to have baths), dinner at 6pm. My twins go to bed at 7-7.15pm and then DD1 goes at 7.30-7.45pm

Edited by rob6712col, 26 November 2012 - 07:28 PM.


#5 Emma600

Posted 26 November 2012 - 07:58 PM

Thanks for your suggestions so far.
Bedtime is about 6.30 .... do you think this is too early? Since she doesn't nap in the day she is pretty whingy and miserable by 6ish ..... but we could look at making it later I guess.
DS is not a good sleeper and it can sometime take an hour or more to settle him (but that's a whole other post) so it would be tricky to get him to sleep and still have time to spend with her .... but I guess there are 2 of us so we could work something out. Thanks guys I'll try this out.

#6 jen88

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:15 PM

What time does she wake up? Is it possible she is actually overtired? My DS (3.5) [who doesn't sleep during the day either] will often try and stretch out bedtime when he is really tired as I think he knows as soon as he gets into bed he will fall asleep!
Also the refusing dinner - maybe try it a bit earlier (if possible) My 2 would be well over eating by 5.30, they naturally want to eat at 3.30ish but I stretch it to 4-4.30 dinner then bath, books and/or card game and bed by 6. Sometimes they are asleep by 5.30, sometimes its 6.30. At the moment they wake at 5am, in winter its normally 6am.



#7 libbylu

Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:44 PM

She might be a tad young, but we have found doing things by the clock helpful for DS, who is now 6.  There is a big digital clock and he knows that at 6pm its dinner. 6.30pm bath, 6.50pm milk then teeth, 7pm into bed for reading and 7.30pm lights out.  Lights out are at 7.30pm regardless so if he drags his feet with eating, bathing, dressing or bushing his teeth he gets less story time.  I actually have an alarm set at 7pm and 7.30pm - the 7pm one lets him know that story time has started and if he hasn't done everything that needs doing before then, he's missing out on stories, and 7.30pm is the lights out alarm with which there is no argument.  Obviously if we are out of kilter due to being out to dinner etc. we modify, but if its a normal night at home it goes far more easily if we can stick to the routine.  He LOVES stories, so its his motivation to get everything else done without too much fuss.

Edited by libbylu, 26 November 2012 - 08:46 PM.


#8 theb3an

Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:09 AM

IMO, bedtime is bedtime and there are NO negotiations.  the more you negotiate with her, the more you are allowing this behaviour to continue.  she needs to know that mommy and daddy will not negotiate at bedtime.  end of story.

i know it sounds harsh but rules are rules.  i have never given in to dd's tactics and they are just that - delay tactics.  if kids  know that you'll give in to one, they'll keep trying to see if they can get them all.  

so, i would stop with the giving in.  stick to your routine and tell her what the routine is.  as you're starting your routine, tell her: it's going to be bath, then books, then cuddles and then lights out and everyone goes to sleep.  there will be no more additional books, or talks or anything.  everyone goes to bed and then we'll have lots of cuddles in the morning.

if you want, use a sticker chart to incent her to "go to bed nicely". explain what that means to her.  the next morning, if she went to bed nicely the night before, give her a sticker and let her put it up on the chart.  kids love that.  at the end of the week or 2wks, if she has all 7 or 14 stickers, get her a small  prize.  

if you find that she likes a sip of water before bed, incorporate that into your routine and keep a small cup of water in the room so you don't have to leave.  

the more you give in and let her negotiate, the more she will do it.

#9 zzgirl

Posted 16 December 2012 - 11:18 AM

6.30pm bedtime????  Does she wake at 5.30am? At that age my kids went to sleep at 8pm and were awake at 7am.  

Sounds way too early for me - but maybe your family are early risers??

#10 zogee

Posted 24 December 2012 - 02:02 PM

I think it's really common at that age. We went through about 12 months of bedtime battles but our situation was extreme!
What helped us was firm routine, time with mummy or daddy after her baby brother is in bed (eg she watches 20 min of a nature program with us) and a gro clock helped with convincing her to go back to bed after early waking/waking through the night when her brother needed resettling. We tried being very firm & even used a baby gate to stop her coming out 2570000 times but it just made her more stubborn (and made us increasingly frustrated!)
Good luck hheart.gif

Edited by zogee, 24 December 2012 - 02:03 PM.


#11 kinicky10

Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:12 PM

I second the no negotiating.  We went through this same sort of thing with my DD and the more we relented the longer the routine became.  I eventually told her that if she got out of bed, yelled out, carried on etc I would close her door and she'd be locked in the dark (sounds harsh) - only happened once or twice but she realized I meant business and now goes to bed no worries.  Also as for the bedtime, our DD is in bed at 6 (she's 4.5) and wakes around 5.30/6am.  She has always been an early riser and we've tried the later bedtime but it makes no difference to her wake up time we just end up with a cranky and tired little girl.

#12 Unatheowl

Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:22 PM

Another one for no negotiation.  It opens the door for endless delay tactics.  There are certain things that dd likes at bedtime.  Certain lights on, door open, certain toys.  She gets one chance to go to bed without a fuss.  If she gets out or starts demanding, she loses those things one by one for one night.  Soft toys, special pillow, night lights and door open. No second chances. W don't often actually have to do it because when we do, there is no going back.

#13 winkywonkeydonkey

Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:37 PM

Sounds like she could be overtired. Maybe try earlier dinner and early bedtime for a week and see if it makes a difference. When my dd doesnt have a daysleep she is asleep by 6:30pm at the latest. we do dinner at 5pm ish on days when i can tell she is tired. otherwise she gets overtired and doesnt eat or go to bed easily.



#14 Daisy Goat

Posted 30 December 2012 - 07:40 PM

I agree with the b3an. No negotiation. She is of the age where she has discovered the ability to control and bedtime  is the perfect platform to use it.

I agree with feeding her earlier. At that age my twins refused to eat if I tried to feed them at 5:30. If they weren't fed by 4:30- 5at the latest then they just refused to eat, refused to have a bath. It is important that they eat for them to feel full and tired for bedtime.

I disagree with people who say send her to bed later. 6:30 is a perfectly acceptable bedtime for 3 yos. 12 hrs sleep is a good sleep for them. And you may well find that going to bed later will have zero impact on what time she wakes up anyway and then you have an even crankier child by 6pm the next night.
Nothing but nothing changed the time my children woke up..still doesn't at 6 yo. So it is vital that a good bedtime is maintained  for maximum sleep.

I would just lay down the rules. Stating that you are in charge and that if she persists in doing this you will have to treat her as a baby and take toys away.

#15 MarigoldMadge

Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:19 PM

I personally think 6.30 is far too early. I've never subscribed to the theory that all children need 12 hrs - most adults I know have varying minimum sleep amounts, why can't kids?

My 3.5 dd does not day nap at all, goes to bed at 8 for stories and chats, lights out at 8.30 and will generally wake at about 7. But here's the thing, we'll often hear her singing or talking to her toys until 9ish. So she is averaging about 9 hrs per night, there's no bedtime battles, she's never really feral or ratty late in the day and she is energetic and happy.

Perhaps just try pushing back bedtime for your eldest till 7.30, see if you get a more peaceful bedtime.

#16 lilwonder

Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:15 PM

My daughter is older (4.5) but I was just wondering if a CD of music or audio book might help? My daughter knows she needs to stay in bed but has a children's audiobook on which gives her something to focus on if she is having trouble getting to sleep.

We also start taking toys away if needed, then turn the bathroom light off, then if she makes a lot of noise or tantrums we close the door. As soon as she is quiet and willing to stay in bed we open the door again and turn the light on. We have only ever had to do it once or twice and she now knows that she has to be quiet and in bed if she wants the door open and light on

Edited by lilwonder, 30 December 2012 - 10:16 PM.


#17 LovenFire

Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:26 PM

I don't think 6:30 is too early, and quite honestly, I would modify it to being 15-20 minutes earlier first to see if you got a more peaceful bedtime, before pushing it back.

An idea that was once suggested was to give her something that she can then swap for ONE something else.  Ie, a cardboard key that she can swap for one glass of water, one more cuddle, one more story etc, but that is it - any callouts after that would be ignored.  And she has to surrender the item once she has called out and used it.  

It may work, it may not.  It obviously won't help with the getting to bed shenanigans, but a sticker chart may.

Good luck,

#18 snooze1981

Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:02 AM

Our DD is 3 and a half and pretty reasonable what has worked for us is a reward that she loves - us.

If she goes to bed all week without any fuss her "reward" is to sleep on a mattress on the floor in our bedroom for one night only (you may have to make a big deal about putting away the mattress etc in the morning so that they understand that it is only temporary )

So far has worked wonders (4 months) It works for our family





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