8 Great Ways to Handle Toddler’s Bedtime Temper Tantrums
Is your child resisting bedtime? Or doesn’t want you to leave the room so he cries to make you stay? Here are 8 great ways to handle toddler’s bedtime temper tantrums.
Continuous crying, shouting, screaming, and throwing toys; that’s how it all begins. I had no clue what was wrong with him. He had his dinner just like every day (which involves the usual running around), wore his PJs, and was ready for bed, and then suddenly, when I was about to leave the room after tucking him in his bed, he started crying. I came back to see if everything was ok and he clung to me while shouting at the top of his lungs, “I don’t want to sleep.” I tried consoling him and tried everything I could, and then I lost my cool. That was just the beginning.
As a parent, the most challenging thing I have dealt with is temper tantrums. Every stage of children comes with some challenges. From colic in newborns to teething and toddler tantrums at bedtime, every stage seems like a never-ending struggle. However, bedtime temper tantrums are most dreaded by parents both new or experienced. There is no known treatment for these tantrums; but you can handle and avoid them with a bit of practice.
Toddlers throw temper tantrums when they “want” or “do not” want something badly. They do it by crying, screaming, stubbornness, and sometimes hitting. Most toddlers just don’t want bedtime routines.
Why? Because they are tired and exhausted, and they feel pressured. Since parents are exhausted themselves, bedtime turns into a war.
Here are 8 tried and tested ways to handle or manage toddler’s bedtime temper tantrums:
Try handling bedtime tantrums when you are not tired or frustrated. We happen to mishandle the situation when we are frustrated and want to get things done right away. With toddlers, it simply doesn’t happen this way. The child usually reciprocates our feelings and emotions. If the parent is relaxed, the child will sense it and will be calm in return.
Set a Routine
When I say routine, it’s not just the bedtime routine; you need to set a routine for the whole day. If you think your child throws tantrums because he is tired, cut down his physical activities at least 2 hours before bedtime. Switch to soft lights, make your child wear comfortable clothes, put on some calming music, give your child a nice comforting bath, and his favorite bedtime story will help him feel relaxed.
Let your child choose
Since toddlers are developing a sense of independence and sleep feels like enforced routine, try letting your child make decisions. Let him select his night suit, the story he wants to read, and the toy he wants to sleep with.
Bedtime tantrum in toddlers is a normal phenomenon. However, there are reasons behind it. You need to dig deeper and find the root cause. See what is disturbing your child. In my case, I found out my kid was getting a good 2-3 hours of afternoon sleep, and when it was time to sleep at night, he was all active, and sleep was the last thing he wanted to do. To manage this, I cut down his afternoon nap and made him do whatever he wanted to do (everything except extensive physical activities).
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Spend some quality time with your toddler
Toddlers demand attention, and if they don’t enough of it, they may become insecure. Spending some quality time with your toddler will reassure him that he is loved and cared for. Make a routine of doing some activities with your toddler before bedtime. You can draw, paint, play, and read a personalized storybook in his room. This will make his room feel more than just a a place to sleep but to have fun as well. As soon as the link between the room and sleep breaks, you will see a visible decrease in his tantrums.
Make sure he doesn’t need anything
Bedtime tantrum usually starts with something small. “I want to have water, want to go pee, or want to hug or say goodbye”; when the demand is not met, the crying and yelling starts. They make these requests to delay or avoid bedtime. The best way is to make help your child fulfill all his needs before bedtime. But once they are in bed, no more requests will be entertained. They may take a few days to build this habit, but tantrums will fade away once it is an established rule.
Avoid Screen time before bed
Imagine watching an exciting movie, and someone comes and switches off the TV; how would you react? The same goes for kids. If you don’t want to struggle with your child at bedtime, cut off their screen time a couple of hours before bedtime. Although weaning off TV would be difficult at first, try and develop healthy and engaging activities for them (yoga has proven to be beneficial in calming down the toddlers and sleep well).
Stick to the Routine
This is the most crucial part of managing a toddler’s bedtime tantrums thing. Once you have established a routine, no matter how impossible it may seem on a particular day, stick to it. Missing one single day will mean starting all over again. Stay calm, relaxed, and consistent. It may take a few days or maybe a couple of weeks for your toddler to get used to the routine, but it will help reduce the tantrums.
Like every tired and exhausted parent, I wanted my toddler to get into his bed and sleep instantly. I got it all wrong by enforcing it. The day I learned to stay calm was the day towards a better tantrum-free bedtime routine. I won’t say it is easy, but slow and steady wins the race.