Tried and tested ways to deal with bedtime meltdowns

Does your little one fight to stay awake when they need to retire for the day? You’re not alone.

If the battle commences as soon as you mention the B-word, you can end up spending a lot of time, effort and tears when trying to put your child to sleep.

Christine Scheepers, sleep consultant at Happy Sleepers, shares her strategies to get your child into bed without a fuss.

Establish a routine

This is extremely important if you have problems sleepers, as they need order and boundaries.

“Children can’t really function in an environment when there’s no structure in-between. When there’s structure and routine, it gives them that sense of security,” says Christine.

“When you have a child with no routine, you’ll see a child with more tantrums because they test the boundaries to see how far they can push them,” she explains.

Verbal warnings

“Especially around bedtime, small children don’t like surprises,” says Christine.

They want to be warned about what’s coming next, so as part of your nighttime routine you should be preparing your tot psychologically for sleep.

“It’s important to warn them, saying things like, ‘In five minutes I am going to give you a bath’ and thigs like that, so they can know what’s coming.”

Christine also believes the cues shouldn’t stop at verbal.

“In the bath, they also need routine. You can set a clock or timer for however long you want, so they can tell when it is going to stop,” she says.

Start early

“The number one reason why toddlers and small children have meltdowns is that they are overtired,” explains Christine.

He believes in an early bedtime for children, as too late can cause them to tick over into a cranky, overtired state.

“A toddler can’t go 12 hours being awake, especially if they don’t have nap time in between,” she says. “When they get to 8 or 9 o’clock they start being overtired and present differently to an adult.”

Stay strong

Your child may have a tantrum after they’ve experienced frustration – whether it be from a problem with their favourite toy, if they can’t get their shoe laces done up or aren’t getting the attention they need from you if you’re busy.

Consequences are very important to quell any tantrums and set boundaries for the future. “Try this by saying, ‘Mummy says no, this is your first warning',” advises Christine.

Stick to your guns, there needs to be consequences immediately. As tempting as it is to give in and warn them again and again, it’s time to teach cause and effect.

“I recommend removing them from the situation,” says Christine. “Usually in the form of time out, if child is six, time out is six minutes.”

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