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How do you handle toddler's bedtime tantrum

  1. #1
    Biggie is offline Registered User
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    How do you handle toddler's bedtime tantrum

    Our 2 yr old recently became very difficult at bedtime: Refusing to go to bed and wanted to read book or get out of his room. I know it has to do with our new baby, but that aside, how do you handle bedtime tantrums ?
    When he was younger, we can just leave him in crib and walk out. It's harder now as he can cause some real damage and would throw up after too much crying. And what if he's in real bed instead of crib? And if he can open the door?
    The solution we have now is to cuddle him to sleep while he is crying, or give in and read book after book until he falls asleep. I don't really like either methods and wonder if you can share what you do in such cases.
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    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    You said that your son wanted to read a book? Do you read to him before bed? I think that if you have a strong and developed bedtime pattern/ritual in place it helps a lot. Our son takes a bath every night (warm water calms him down), we dim the lights in his room, we read him several books, sometimes he has a small snack, pray with him before he goes to sleep and then we put on a CD (either music or stories) which he listens to while he nods off to sleep.

    I also usually lay down to cuddle with him before he falls asleep but this is something I enjoy doing and it makes him feel more secure. I don't do it to pacify him after he starts throwing a fit--I offer to cuddle with him for a few minutes initially so there is actually no need for him to throw a tantrum. The time is very limited. If I'm tired or have other things to attend to I usually tell him, "Okay, I'm going to cuddle with you for five minutes and then I'm going out"--it's become a habit so he doesn't fight about it anymore. He knows that Mama will always take the time to give him that attention so it's not a power struggle.

    Also, on really fussy nights I have given him a book or toy to hold/play with until he falls asleep and I really seen no harm in it--it serves as a comfort/distraction for him. Usually, when I check back on him he's already fallen asleep and it's not a regular thing that he actually wants or asks for some item to sleep with.

    He did go through a point where he was coming out of his room or moving around his room when he was supposed to be in bed and we put an immediate stop to that. I told him that if he came out of his room one more time he would have a spanking. I think we only had to make good on that threat once and he never came out again. Now, all I do is knock on the door and he knows to get back in bed and lay down.

    I think it's all about setting boundaries, sticking to those boundaries, offering rewards and consequences and most of all having a good, stable routine that offers security. With a new baby I'd be guessing your son probably feels a bit displaced. He may need more reassurance (more cuddles at night, more books at night, not less) that he's still important. More than anything, don't make it into a drama--yelling at him or getting overwhelmed only adds to the problem, I think. Just be firm and no matter how many times he gets up all night long, make sure that you're responding in the same firm way each time.

    Hope you have some help to get you through this time (husband, helper etc.). It must be rough.

  3. #3
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    carang is offline Registered User
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    i think the biggest thing is that once YOU decide what/how you want it to be, that YOU stick with it... if you give in to demands after a lengthy "fight" all you do is teach your child that if they fuss a little bit longer, they'll eventually get what they want.

    we've never had a huge issue with bedtimes as the rules were set out from a very young age. just tonight, my daughter was not finishing her dinner (she's just turned 4) and i reminded her that if she didn't finish her dinner by the set time, she would be brushing her teeth and going straight to bed. it is NOT a punishment and it isn't treated as such. it is just the consequences of not finishing dinner. her words to me were, 'that's ok mummy, i'm getting sleepy. can i eat it for breakfast?" then she went off and got her toothbrush and toothpaste without any fuss whatsoever. about 10 minutes after she toddled off to bed, i said to my son (who had finished his dinner) that he had 10 more minutes until he had to brush his teeth and go to bed. he decided after about 2 minutes that he was "quite tired, so i'm going to bed. good night mummy."

    when both kids have finished their dinner, they usually can play etc until about 7:30 at which time they brush their teeth and go off to bed. they are almost always in bed by 7:45pm and usually asleep between 8-8:15.

    i think the reason it's so easy for us 99% of the time is that we've taught them to recognise the signs of their own tiredness. because of this, they often decide to go to bed on their own...

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    Biggie is offline Registered User
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    We have a routine and he used to be good. We would read some books and then he got tired and asked to be put to bed or we just put him to bed(crib). Now he doesn't do that anymore and is always fighting not to go to bed. I want to set a limit and be stricter but problem is, as I pointed out above that he is older now and capable of hurting himself ( banging head on floor, might climb out of crib ) and later when he's in real bed he could be throwing fist in the room which is dangerous if unsupervised. So the question i have is how do you handle such fit WHEN it happens
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    i've always ignored it. walked out and closed the door. (they HATE that!) i leave them to it and tell them i'll come back when they've finished. they mostly do it for attention, so i take away the attention. i've NEVER supervised a fit! that only gives them what they want.

    if your child is climbing out of the crib, it's time to change to a bed.


    again, the best thing to do is to choose your battles and once you have to be consistent and not to give in. if it's bed time and he gets out of bed, you just take him back to bed... no talking. he may do it a hundred times/night, you just have to stick ith it and do it the same way again and again and again until he's too tired to do anything about it.

    as for throwing up after crying... i'd never heard of that until i came to hk. if my kids ever did it, i would make them help clean it up. it is an attention seeking action. the child is in no way sick. they force themselves into this behaviour. i would NOT tolerate that at all, ever.
    Last edited by carang; 02-21-2011 at 10:25 AM.

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    lesliefu is offline Registered User
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    my 2yr old has learnt to throw fits too - not for sleep time but when she is changes. what I do is stay around and let her throw her fit, get it out of her system - I might give her a minute to "act out" but at the same time IGNORE her. I'm there, but I don't actually do anything...I just want to make sure she is same, since she can cry till you wants to throw up too. normally, 1 minute, she is about to calm down, and then I will "reason with her" - talk to her calmly and tell her that it "doesn't hurt" - her head is a bit big, and the turtle necks she's been wearing are a bit more tight than the big colllared shirts - anyhow, once she is more calm, I tell her, "mommy will help you do it" and "mommy will be gentle, OK?" kind of reassuring her that I will give her my time and do it for her rather than having the helper or daddy do it (we too have a younger one and tantrums have magnified since she arrived).

    bed time - she might have some tantrums, but it is less common than changing. when she has, i normally stay with her in her room and let her cry...for around 1 minute, then i will refocus her frame of mind and ask her what books she wants to read - giving her suggestions of her favorite books. on these days, i do not strict with the time of bed, i am more concerned about her calming down, and mentally preparing her for bed time. we always read books - but on these days, we might read a few more books, after which i will tuck her into bed...one thing i do each night is talk to her and tell her what the plans are for the next day, on tantrum days, i might add a few "fun" activities (going to ocean park etc.) just to make her happy and willing to sleep, then a ****, and "be good now...mommy will play with you tomorrow" kind of thing and then I leave. normally she is calm and will not cry anymore or come out of her room (she's in a toddler bed) - this whole "process" could take up to 15mins...patience is the key, and at 2yr. I tend to believe that they are unable to express themselves so use "extraordinary means" to get our attention...i try to give attention, but on my grounds - calm down, i will talk to you, kind of thing. hope this helps!

  7. #7
    carang's Avatar
    carang is offline Registered User
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    actually, at that age, extraordinary means are usually what toddlers resort to first... at least that's what i've experienced having taught this age of child for almost 16 years.

    toddlers this age do not yet have the mental capacity to be able to distinguish "good" attention from "bad" attention. generally, they are also unable to verbalise their feelings on their own. the only way they know how to release their anger and frustration is through a fit.

    i forgot to say that i deal with my two kids slightly differently. they are different children and handle situation scompletely differently.

    with my older child, i tell him that the longer he cries/screams the longer he'll stay in his room. that works. he always quiets down on his own.

    with my younger child, i leave her for 2 minutes. then i go in and ask her if she's finished and would she like a cuddle. if she continues screaming, i go out for another 2 minutes. usually after 4-6 minutes, she says, 'yes, mummy, i'm finished.' and then i give her a cuddle and talk her down a little more...after 2 minutes of talking her down, she's fine.

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    thanka2 is offline Registered User
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    ------------------------------
    Last edited by thanka2; 02-21-2011 at 10:46 AM.

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