Sleep Training Part 2: Why do children have bedtime problems? (Hint... It might be you, but that's okay; we're here to help)

As babies, many children are rocked, fed or soothed to sleep. If this becomes a habit, children continue to need these things as they get older. They’re not learning how to settle themselves and fall asleep on their own. As children grow, they need to learn how to fall asleep without help.

Parents can also accidentally fall into traps and encourage bedtime issues by giving them extra attention when they’re not doing what they should be. This includes reasoning, nagging, bribing, arguing or negotiating. Just to get them to stop crying, we can give in and let them watch a DVD and falling asleep on the sofa or allowing them to make 29740 more bedtime requests after you keep saying “this is the last thing…”

When parents are tired, we can fall into an escalation trap where we need to repeat the instructions over and over, shout, and getting angry before your child decides to do what they are told. Children LOVE attention and will continue to do things that get it, even if its negative.

Children thrive on routine. If there is no set bedtime routine, expected bed time or everything varies one day to the next, it can be unpredictable and confusing for a child.

Do you fall into any of the following traps?

  • Inconsistency (personally from day to day or between different households)

  • Accidental rewards
    - being rocked or fed to sleep
    - attention (arguing, bribing)
    - getting a reward ?( youtube videos, going to bed later)
    - getting out of sleeping in their own bed or alone

  • Escalation Traps (shouting or repeating instructions)

How do you give instructions?

Sometime the way we give instructions can influence whether or not children do as you ask. Common problems with instructions are:

  • Sounds like a question. “Are you ready for bed?” – It can seem like we’re giving children a choice. When your child has the option… no. No they obviously are not ready for bed!

  • Bad timing. Sometimes we tell them to go to bed at the very last minute, or right in the middle of a good movie, game, or when your child is busy. Would you like it if someone came up to you and turned off your phone and told you to do laundry? No? Well… kids need some warning.

  • Body Language. Sometimes our body language says something different than our words. If we are cuddling, laughing, or smiling while telling them to stop coming out of bed.. This can confuse them because they don’t know what we mean.

  • Shouting instructions from another room. Children are more likely to ignore requests from another room because we are not there to make sure they follow through.