How to get a child to sleep - June 11th

Normally, we try to get our 2 year old to bed at around 7:00-7:30pm each night. Right now, it's 9:05pm and my 2 year old is in his room singing his favorite song and banging his feet against the side of his bed. This has me wondering how to get a child to sleep.

It seems like I tried everything tonight. Setting expectations, punishment, role-playing, staying in the room quietly, bribing, and praying. Nothing seemed to work.

Part of the problem is that he apparently slept to long and too late this afternoon. My wife told me he went down for a nap around 2:30pm and he slept until about 5:00pm (normally these days he sleeps for about 1 - 1.5hrs earlier in the afternoon).

Hold on... I need to go turn his light off and tuck him in again.

Ok, it's 9:25pm now and hopefully he's down for the night. So so here are some tips on how to get your child to sleep (I definitively don't have it all figured out, but I find that these usually work, and I plan to work harder to implement these tips for myself too) :

  • Be firm and consistent. children over 2 years old need to know that you're serious. If you say you're going to do one thing and then do another thing, you'll quickly loose their respect and belief. (you may have a tough night now and then... like tonight... but in the long run, staying consistent is by far the best thing you can do)
  • indulge just a little. my son has been on a little kick lately, "there are monsters." I indulge him just a little bit, "let's open the closet doors and see... no monsters. Ok, now under the bed... no monsters." A little indulgence helps him to get that last little bit of attention from me and some assurance that he'll be ok.
  • Make sure naps are taken earlier in the day (and not so long). So, this is the one that we had trouble with today. Make sure your 2 year old takes a nap earlier in the day and if they start to sleep too long, wake them up gently.
    • By accident, we installed a light in my son's bedroom that lights up slowly. This is the perfect way to wake him up gently when we need him to get up. I poke my head in his room, flip the switch and walk out. The light comes on slowly almost like the sun coming up, so it's a more natural way to wake him up.

Lesson Learned: I still need to learn some lessons about how to get a child to sleep... we especially need to make sure and get the 2 year old to nap earlier and not as long during afternoon.

How do you get your child to sleep? Leave me a comment below or send an e-mail to