All the behavior management strategies designed to teach babies to settle on their own can be used successfully with older children. Again, the principles are the same: analyze your family and your needs and choose the method you believe will work best for you, then follow it through. However, you may need to adapt the techniques slightly for older children.

Talk it through. Now that your child is able to communicate with you verbally, it is important for you to discuss things with him. Strategy - Explain what is happening and why. Also make it clear that you are not going to be swayed in your resolve over this issue.

Prolonged Bedtimes

An older child might also play games to drag bedtime out for longer. These might include claiming that he's hungry or thirsty, or that he needs another trip to the toilet.

Strategy - To counter this, build any essential needs into his bedtime routine. Bedtime normally follows soon after tea for young children, so you know he's not hungry. Give him a last drink of water or milk before he begins his bedtime routine (if he is prone to becoming thirsty during the night, leave a beaker of water by his bed). Make sure he goes to the toilet before he gets into bed.

If you are confident his claims are merely an attempt to manipulate you, you can refuse to indulge them just as confidently. But don't get sidetracked into long negotiations or reasoning with him: tell him simply that he has just had a meal/ a drink/been to the toilet and repeat your bedtime phrase to him. He will soon get the message that you are not to be worn down.


As well as resisting the new regime through crying, an older child might keep getting out of bed.

Strategy - If this happens, resist any urge to pick him up, look sympathetic or even reason with him about why he needs to be in bed - it is important not to 'reward' him in any way. Instead, look firm and say simply 'Bed'. Turn him around, rest your hand lightly on his shoulder and steer him firmly back towards his bed. It is important to maintain this unruffled neutrality even if your child throws a tantrum while he is out of bed. When he sees that he gets no response from you, he will soon get bored and begin staying under his covers.