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Common Bedtime Problems in Toddlers

By Edited Jun 10, 2015 0 0

Sleep training older children can produce more problems, simply because they have more ingenuity than babies. And even children who have previously been good sleepers can start throwing tantrums at bedtime as they try to carve out their own identity. But remember: you will always succeed in the end.

Tantrums at bedtime
Tantrums are common around the age of 2, when children really start to push the boundaries given to them.

Strategy - The trick with all tantrums, including those at bedtime, is not to respond. If you get angry or try to cajole, your child has succeeded in getting a reaction from you, and will consider it worthwhile taking the same approach again. He may well need to get his frustration out of his system, so let him work his way through his anger. Once he has calmed down, don't refer to the tantrum, but quietly pick up your bedtime routine where he interrupted it. He will naturally outgrow his tantrums - the less response he gets from you, the quicker this will happen.

Children who will only settle for one person
It can be heart-rending to hear your child screaming for you as your partner struggles to put him to bed. You could give in: after all, it's nice to feel wanted. Alternatively, you can ride it out. This has two advantages. Firstly, it enables you to start getting on with your own activities. Secondly, it eliminates a prop (that is, you) that your child needs in order to be able to get to sleep. The fewer props he relies on, the less likely he is to need those props during the night.

Strategy - If you want to break the dependency, take it in turns with your partner to put your child to bed. On the nights when it is not your turn, be very strict that once you have said goodnight you don't reappear. Your child may scream the house down on the first few nights, but he will come to realize that you have not abandoned him and will learn to settle for your partner as well as you.

Going dry at night
This can throw even an established good sleeper out of his usual sleep pattern, especially if he has lots of accidents.

Strategy - The best advice is to wait until he is really ready: dry nappies in the morning and waking to go to the toilet at night are the important signs. Invest in a mattress protector and deal with any accidents with minimum fuss. Encourage him to go straight back to sleep again using your normal phrase. You could also try a reward system.

Smooth transitions
Moving from her cot into a bed can be a major challenge, a complete non-event or a new adventure that can make your child feel very grown up. Strategy If you have to move her because you are expecting another baby, do it well before your due date so that she doesn't think her new sibling has usurped her position. Explain to her what is happening and allow her to feel that she has some say in the matter: perhaps she can help to choose her bed or a new duvet cover. If she does have difficulties settling in her new bed, try playing games on it with her during the day so that it becomes a place she enjoys being.



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