If you are having toddler bedtime battles you are not alone! It is totally normal for toddlers to want to be in control and push boundaries. It is actually a really important part of their cognitive development. So how do we as parents navigate this without going mad?
Here are my top four tips to easy bedtime battles but you can also use these strategies throughout the day to manage overwhelm and maintain boundaries.
Give them time warnings. Transitioning from one task to the next is hard for many toddlers and its completely normal. Giving them time warnings can be a very effective way to get their brains ready to make the transition to the next activity before it happens. For example, “in 5 mins we are going to start putting the lego away and then go out” “in 5 mins we are going to go upstairs to get ready for bed”. The amount of time you specify doesn’t really matter with younger children, but the warning itself is very useful when implemented with consistency to help them get mentally ready for what is coming next.
Give them choices. Anyone with a toddler will know that they LOVE being in control. Offering choices to your child at the appropriate times will allow them to feel in control of some situations and reduce overwhelm, while still giving you as parents, the space to implement strong boundaries. A proper choice has 2 equally positive choices. For example: Of these 2 pairs of pyjamas, which would you like to wear?
Of these 4 stories, which 2 would you like to hear?
Tell them exactly what is going to happen next. Not only does this help foster language development but it can also help to prevent overwhelm and emotional dysregulation. Give them specific details like “we are going to go out to the shop in the car”. When you then approach the car, there is less chance your child will become overwhelmed about having to get in, as it’s not a new piece of information for them to process.
Be consistent and stick to your boundaries. Don’t underestimate the importance of consistency. Being consistent and sticking to boundaries ultimately makes children feel more safe and secure and less out of control of their situation. It is hard to say NO and stick to it when it leads to toddler overwhelm but ultimately it ensures a secure bond between parents and children.
Reach out if you need support with your toddler.