A few nights ago I talked about my two year old who refused to go to sleep. I offered a few ideas on how to get a child to sleep. I readily admit that I don't have it all figured out (it's 8:59pm and I just had to take my two year old back to bed for the 18th time tonight).
Stand & Watch - (I didn't learn this method from anyone, I just followed my own instincts as the evening went on) After about the 16th time of coming out of his room or out of his bed, I sensed that I needed to be a lot clearer about what my expectations were. (I believe strongly that not setting proper expectations leads to many of the problems that we have in relationships and life in general). So, I decided to teach my son exactly what I expected of him. I am willing to give him some wiggle room as long as he stays in his bed. If he gets out of bed, there are too many distractions of toys, books, etc. If I can keep him contained in his bed, I know that he'll quickly get bored and decide to settle down.
I did try two new methods tonight which may or may not help you.
- 3 tickets - (I learned this one from our pediatrician) I created 3 tickets and laid them near my son's bed. The idea is that he can use each ticket to come out of the room one time for a reason of his choosing (get some milk, use the restroom, cuddle). Once the tickets are used, he would then have to stay in his bed.
- The ticket method seemed to work really well at first. He used all three in about 5 minutes, but I thought maybe he was understanding the plan. He used his last ticket, I tucked him in and we said goodnight. I thought that would be it, but a couple of minutes later as I was trying to get the older ones to bed... out comes the 2 year old.
- This method seemed to work almost immediately. I stood by and gently reminded him of my requirement by softly rapping on his dresser whenever he started to get down off his bed. As long as he was in the bed I let him move around, talk, and even play a little (this was actually a very entertaining 5-7 minutes for me). At one point, he really wanted to get down because he wanted to get his teddy bear. I reminded him not to get out of bed and I took this opportunity to get the bear and try to settle him down one more time.
- He did come out of his room one more time after this. I firmly reminded him that he had to stay in his bed. and he hasn't come out since (it's now 9:26pm and he should be down for the night).
Lesson Learned: toddlers are hard to get to bed after you give them the freedom of no rails... Stick with it and try different things. Eventually, you'll learn how to get a child to sleep in a reasonable amount of time.
Have any other ideas for getting a two year old to sleep? Leave a comment below or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org