Thursday, August 29, 2013

Winning the Bedtime War

Its back to school time. Summer vacation has come to an end and fall is swiftly approaching. But honestly I love the change of seasons and autumn is actually my favorite time of year. I love fall fashion, the food, the scenery and fall day trips. Now that I talked about what I like, lets talk about what I don't like. There are a few things I don't particularly care for, but one that comes to mind was when I would have to play tug-o-war with my child at night! Yes, most parents know what I'm talking about, but I've found some simple steps that have helped me win the bedtime war.

First things first, you've gotta spell it out! There will be a million requests; "I need a drink", "I have to pee-pee" or the killer "One more hug Mommy?" It can seem like you're rejecting them when you say "NO!", but the best thing to do is keep a routine. Let your little one know that there will be..say, 3 books, 2 songs, 1 drink, 1 bathroom trip and 10 hugs and kisses each. You can always set aside extra kisses, stories and bedtime snacks for the next day. I tell Masaya that I kiss and cuddle him while he is asleep all the time and he likes that. The second thing is you as a parent have to follow your own rules. You can't set up this nightly ritual and not follow through with it yourself. I found this to be the most difficult because just as any parent knows, children are so unpredictable. Really, life is and some days are harder then others. But as early childhood education teaches us, young children learn best through repetition. Because I knew once Masaya got the routine, he would stop stalling and that's just what happened. Hell, I even wrote his routine down and hung it up in his room for a while so that I could be accountable as well and follow through.  And lastly, know that you are not rejecting your child if you say no. I had to understand that I was not rejecting my son, but I was only reacting to his stall tactics. I would feel so guilty and think "Oh, my sweet baby just wants me to love him and he needs me" and the next thing I knew it was almost 10:30pm and my child was still wide awake, with me lying next to him, pleading that he go to sleep. And its ok to show anger or frustration when your child pushes you too far. Children need to see real emotion and they need to know when they have over stepped their boundaries not only with their relationship with you, but also when they interact with other adults and other children. By recognizing anger, frustration or any other negative feeling, they can understand how to correct themselves, deal with the situation and not be caught off guard. If you do happen to explode (I have many times, I am not ashamed to say), apologize for yelling, but you MUST maintain your underlying message that it is time for the little one to go to sleep.

Listen, we've all been there, but the good thing is that it doesn't last forever. It could last a few weeks or several months, but not forever. This guideline should help if you're going through the bedtime war, but if you believe that there is a serious issue going on other your wee one staying up all night to party, make sure you contact your child's pediatrician. And hey, you may not always win the battle, but for sure, you will win the war.

Sweet dreams friends,
Malinda xoxox

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