Preschoolers (3 to 5 years old)
Call them professional toddlers. They're bigger, better, smarter, and less likely to do your bidding unless they've been well trained otherwise.
Typical Bedtime Battle #4: Endless Curtain Calls
Solution: Create a lean, mean, bedtime routine and execute it without fail, every night, so your toddler knows exactly what to expect. Mindell suggests a tight 30 to 40 minutes of activities that don't change from night to night. Give your toddler a sense of control by letting him pick certain elements. Bath first, or book? Which two books do you want? Try announcing a five-minute pre-bedtime reprieve, and setting the timer. When the time dings, it's time to start the routine. Be consistent. You'll be surprised at how your child clings to the routine, even as he protests that he's not sleepy. And when you're done, you're done. What if your preschooler tries to prolong the routine with another book, another cup of water, one more song?
A bedtime chart can be a handy tool, capitalizing on a preschooler's love of rules. Incorporate every possible stalling tactic you can think of, and write it down on the chart. When your preschooler demands a third book, refer him to the chart. "It doesn't call for a third book, darling." You can also issue your child a bedtime pass, which he can use to redeem one more book or cup of water. Your call as to how often he gets it -- anywhere from once a night to once a week. Letting him have a small win will result in a much bigger win for you.
Everything looks harder than it is when you're not getting enough sleep. Try these tips, and your outlook should improve. Then you'll have the energy and brain cells to tackle your next big parenting challenge!