Bedtime Battles

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Sometimes a toddler's persistence in screaming at bedtime can be amazing. If he's not sick and doesn't have a soiled diaper yet continues to scream, tell him that you'll have to close his door until he stops. If he keeps wailing, open the door after a minute or two and remind him that if he is quiet, you'll be happy to keep the door open. Usually, this will do the trick. (This strategy also works well for the toddler who repeatedly gets out of his bed. Just keep the door closed until he stays put.)

Try to be calm, consistent, and reassuring when dealing with a screaming toddler. Don't scold or punish your child, but by the same token, don't give the impression of "rewarding" her with extra hugs, kisses, and prolonged visits.

It may be tempting to let your little insomniac sleep in your bed-just to forestall the hysterics. While some people advocate the "family bed," in which young children share a bed or room with their parents, other experts advise against the arrangement. The primary objection? Bed sharing doesn't help a child learn to fall asleep on his own and doesn't do much for the parents' own relationship (or sleep!). If your child wanders into your room in the middle of the night wanting to come into your bed, lead him by the hand to his own bedroom. Try to keep interaction to a minimum so that he's not rewarded for staying awake. Remember, habits can be extremely hard to break at this age, and if you repeatedly give in to such manipulations, you may inevitably find yourself with a longtime bedtime partner!

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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