Transitioning from a totally dependant baby to having an independent toddler can be a very rewarding time for a parent, but it can also be really frustrating. Instead of being in charge of what your little one wears and eats, now all the sudden they have their own opinions that they may or may not be able to share with you. You may have mastered a perfect sleep schedule for your baby, and maybe you even escaped the tough work of transitioning from 2 naps to one, but now you have a toddler who maybe has just moved to a big kid bed, and now wants just one more drink of water, or just one more potty break, and instead of being stuck in a crib, your darling demon is now able to walk out of the room and demand more and more… ok, now what…
The good news is that toddlers are receptive to having a schedule and knowing what comes next… So now is a good time to implement a family meeting, and make a Bedtime Routine Chart. Pick a time that works for you and your little one. It needs to be a time when they are not hungry or tired or wanting to go to the park… Talk to your child about your expectations. Keep the explanations short. Get your child involved in making a chart, in which you will put up pictures of your bedtime routines. This helps them feel important and helps them take charge of their choices. Find or make pictures of brushing teeth, reading a book, singing a song, tucking into bed, whatever is included in your bedtime routine. You can laminate these or use contact paper and stick velcro on the back. Create a timeline that your little one can follow… perhaps they can even put the pictures on the chart in the right order. Make it a game. Talk in a positive, fun, excited voice about how we are going to follow what this poster tells us to do… The great thing with the pictures is that it gives clear instructions to children who may not have the words to express these concepts.
Give your child a chance to expand their wings in a way that is guided by you and you should see less resistance at night. For added encouragement, give them a sticker for meeting each goal. Kids love stickers. For the less than crafty types, check out these charts I found on etsy.com. I even ordered a few! https://www.etsy.com/listing/93060544/sleep-reward-chart-good-night-sleep?ref=hp_rv
Your next hurdle is to make sure you stick to your plan. Parents who cave into to ‘just one more request’... end up fighting the battle longer and longer. Kids want to test out their new limits. If you keep caving, you teach them to fight harder for what they want… so keep all this in mind. If you have a particularly strong willed child this may be hard, but stick to your limits. Reinforce when they do something right, and don’t be afraid to stick to your guns and say no. Remember, you get to be the boss, and set the rules.