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Welcome to the kids sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for Life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together.
All right, I’m so excited to be joined today by Angela Stewart. She is an awesome member of the Slumber squad here at Tiny transitions. She has worked with the team for almost two years now as our resident toddler expert. So I’m gonna allow her a chance to say hello, introduce herself. And we’re going to talk to you today all about toddlers, boundaries, consequences and how to get that toddler to sleep well. So Angela, Hello, and thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you, Courtney. I’m so excited to be here. I love being part of the tiny transitions lumber squat. I am
Angela Stewart, as we said, and I live in Austin, Texas. I am a pediatric sleep specialist. But I do specialize in toddlers. It’s the you know, the My Favorite age group to work with.
So I work with people all around Texas and virtually around the world. I mean, you pretty much you can get me anywhere. As long as we’re able to communicate, you’re able to work with me. But toddlers are my specialty. So yeah, I love this. I actually came to be a sleep specialist because I had struggles with my first my my son when he was born. He’s seven now. And thank goodness, he is a fabulous sleeper. But before he became a fabulous sleeper, I was a tired, stressed out Mom, I have three boys. And you know, thank goodness, I figured out how to handle sleep with my first because I was able to have two more. But those first six months were rough and working with the specialists is what basically changed my life. So I highly recommend it not just because I am one, but because I actually used one and it was life changing? Well, I think it’s overwhelming, right? For parents, I think some parents feel a sense of guilt. Right? Gosh, I let this go on for weeks, months years too long. Sometimes they feel a sense of, you know, questioning whether it’s going to work frankly, right. I mean, you You are the toddler expert, but we work with kids as Do you from birth, right, shaping good sleep, fixing some things, you know, from an infancy standpoint that might have creeped in. And with toddlers, it’s a lot around boundaries. And so, you know, I think that parents struggle with sometimes getting a spouse’s buy in to, you know, to fixing things, sometimes with their own mental block thinking that they don’t deserve the help or that it’s sort of a, you know, just a rite of passage, right to be a parent who’s tired, and it is what it is. And, you know, I think one of the things here especially that we’ve always really focused on is that everybody deserves good sleep. And so, you know, what I want to talk about today would be really specific to toddlers and how we categorize toddlers because I think parents look at a toddler as like, oh, three or four years old, but in the sleep world, but like, like, what age? Would you say a child is actually, in the sleep world considered a toddler now, they may still be in the crib, but they have the mind of being able to make some decisions. So why don’t we talk a little bit about that first, like, tell us a little bit about the age in which we would kind of consider kids to be a toddler mindset and what the difference is between an infant and a toddler in the world of sleep? Yeah, yeah. So I would say around like 18 months is pretty much when they began to come a toddler once they kind of like started getting that little independence of like, starting to walk and, you know, like the kind of talking a little bit, kind of sort of makes them a toddler. And infant is basically from four months to about 17 months, you know, just give or take, it’s just, it all really depends on the kid. But that’s kind of like what an infant is. And around there like before that you’re really like focusing on really teaching them how to sleep. Once you get to get to get to be bothered, they they know how to sleep, they’ve been, you know, they’ve been on this planet for, you know, over a year. So they know how to sleep. And it mostly becomes they’re just testing those boundaries. They’re like, they’ve got those little personalities that are starting to come out. They’ve got like, oh, I have these habits that I’ve already created. And I those are those things that those are things I like, I like those things, like I want to keep those things, you know, your parents, you’ve really kind of ingrained in them, like, you know, these things, this is what they expect that those expectations and they’re starting to understand, you know, how they
work. And they understand like, Oh, if I do this, you know, if I do this, like, Oh, this is gonna happen. And you know, I’ve like this, you know, like, this is what I want kind of thing, you know, reaction action and reaction is what they’re, you know, they’re at that age and they’re starting to really understand that and we don’t give them enough credit. I find that like
We know when we’re thinking about like thinking about toddlers, we don’t give them enough credit, we don’t really think they think, Oh, well, you know, he’s only 18 months, he says a baby, you know, like, or, oh, you know, she’s, she’s like 14 months, you know, even that can be a, you know, a toddler, especially one that, you know, you know, walk in and kind of talk a little bit like, Oh, the 14 month, she doesn’t understand, like, you know, but we don’t give enough credit because really, they do understand they understand a lot. They understand a lot. And so we have to start setting those, like, expectations and boundaries towards good sleep. Like, you know, if we haven’t already started, you know, when they were an infant, now’s the time because they’re, you know, we can really start working on because they understand, they really do understand, like, consequences, and, you know, expectations, and so we just have to really start like, you know, really ingrain that into them, like how to go about these things. It’s I think it’s a great point you make because you have, you know, people say to me all the time, like what’s that difference? And like, as a newborn, when we work with clients, we’re not sleep training a newborn, right? We’re not making a baby cried out all night, which is what people think sometimes that we do. Yeah, you’re asleep shaping a child, right? If you teach your child from birth, how to build good sleep hygiene, while still doing all the other things that as new parents, we do, we want to cuddle, we want to go for a walk, we may end up having them nap on our chest, those things are fine, right? You’re shaping sleep with some good positive stuff that ultimately wins out after a couple of weeks. Right? As an infant. To your point there’s generally a habit that’s taken place nursing to sleep rocking, to sleep feeding, to sleep, bouncing to sleep, right to sleep, is that operable work. But then when you get into toddlerhood, it’s sort of this, there’s this fine line, because it’s no longer that they’re not they don’t know how to sleep, like an infant has never learned how to sleep that skill, right? As a toddler, they’re gone. I know how to sleep, but I’m choosing not to because your beds more comfortable. Or I know you’re gonna rub my head for two hours. And I think that’s the biggest distinction. Even with things like the pacifier a 12 month old is smart enough to know if they throw the pacifier out of the crib, and you pick it up for them, that you’re gonna come in and do it. It’s a learned behavior. So I think your explanation of that is great, because it is very much this kind of learned action, if you will, of, you know, cause and effect and I think that’s where that that jumped into toddlerhood comes and, you know, again, typically, under 18 months, we’re kind of balancing toddler and infant but definitely at 18 months, like you’re you’re choosing not to, you know, I joke sometimes that when I go to sleep at night with my husband,
if he has not yet flipped over, okay, and I asked for a head rub. I’ll get it now. I’m a narcoleptic. I fall asleep in 14 seconds, right?
I sleep nine to five every night. Okay. But if he already flips over, I missed the head row. So if I say Honey, can you roll my head? He’s like, nope, flipped over. Yep. boundary, right. That’s a boundary. And I want to talk about boundaries and consequences. Because that’s the boundary that he puts No, I flipped over. I’m not rubbing your head. Now as a 40 year old woman, you know what I do? Please, please buy it for a
kid sleep. He’s like, Well, you shut up. No wonder why you’re, you know, you’re worse than your clients, you know, because
I’m whining. Why? Because I know that my behavior will yield the result. He’ll be annoyed. He’ll flip over, he’ll wrap my head and in 15 seconds, I’m sleeping. So our kids are doing the same thing. So I want to take a minute and talk to you about boundaries, right? Like, what does that mean? I think people equate this to like, close the door and let them figure it out. Like that’s not we’re talking about like, what is a boundary look like? Like, what are some things that you would say are like common boundaries are crossed with toddlers at any age 18 months or four years? Yeah, boundary is basically just setting up an expectation. So it’s all about like saying like, what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do. So basically, if you’re willing to sit them in there, put them in their bed, give them you know, 10 Kisses and then leave
that 11th Kiss, you’re not crossing that boundary. That’s the boundary, you set those expectations. You say, hey, look, I’ll read you two stories tonight. But that’s it. Please read. Please read me a third. And you’re like, No, I’m not going to read you a third. This is it’s bedtime. And then you have to have those consequences and consequences. Kind of get a bad rap to, you know, think sleep training gets a bad rap and think consequences we talked about that kind of gets a bad rap because consequences can be positive or negative. I mean, you just have to really figure out what your kid you know, values, like what their value is, like, if they value like, you know, getting like, you know, a tweet or a little toy or something like that’s a positive consequence. You can use like, Okay, if you don’t ask for a third stories night and you go right to bed, in the morning, you’re gonna get a little treat, like whatever it is. And you know, but then but if you know your kid is like you
Yeah, okay, yeah, I don’t want to, I want that third story, because then you can do like do a consequences maybe on the negative side because they, they go for that. And it doesn’t have to be something like strict is like, you know, slamming the door and walking out and not going back, it can be something as simple as like, okay, you know, after swim lessons usually get an ice cream cone, well, guess what, you’re not getting an ice cream cone today. Because you did not follow the cut, you know, it’s just its consequence, it’s basically, you have to set them up, we like these are things that are important to them, they have to learn that they can’t always get everything they want, just because they want it like, there are things that like, you know, this is a want, it’s not a need, you know, they just want you to do something for them. And they’re going to wine, they’re going to push buttons, because that’s what kids do. That’s how they learn what boundaries are and how the world expects them to be like, it’s all about learning. You’re teaching them like good habits, like you’re teaching them how to, you know, interact with other people and understand that, like, yeah, someone’s got some boundaries, and I’m not I cannot cross them like these are important. And it’s just, it’s all about setting up their you know, instead of as good behaviors as good expectations, and just Reno, really figuring out like, where you’re willing to go and where you’re not willing to go. And you may be the type of parent who’s willing to go a little bit further than another parent, and that’s okay. You know, if it’s working for your family, then it’s okay. It’s when it stops working, where you’re struggling, because you are reading 17,000 stories every night, and you’re tired and like, I don’t want to do this anymore, but I don’t know how to stop. Because I don’t understand, like, my kids going to start crying my kids go throw a fit, my kid’s going to, you know, run out of the room screaming or whatever. And that’s what we end because we help you create those boundaries, we help you we, you know, help you like get that figure out what you’re going to do to create those boundaries. And I think it’s very important to have those boundaries with your kids. I know you talk about this all the time, Courtney about how you, your kids are not allowed to leave their room until, like what 6am or something like, because you need your you need that hour that you get up to yourself. And they know that they know the expectation is for them to stay in their room. Because you’ve taught them that. And then that same advice they have, and I give them options like you don’t have to lay there like a corpse. But here’s your book, you ever reading light, my daughter’s younger, so she has one of those water books, you can do your sticker by number books, you can do you know, things that like frankly, are kind of boring, too. Because just like anything, the luxury of that wears off, like I don’t want you getting up at 530 Anyway, because you shouldn’t be right. So after a couple of days of doing those sticker books, you’re like, This is stupid, I’m just gonna go back to bed for you know, and they do but if I let them out of the room, they’re up everyday 530 Because they can get exactly, yeah, you’ve set the expectation, they know that I can do XY and Z, but I can’t do a and they Okay, well, xy and z is not fun, like XY and Z is kind of, you know, kind of sucks. So I’m just gonna do you know, like, I’m just gonna lay there and go back to sleep, or I’m just gonna lay here quietly, whatever it is, but you’ve created those expectations and sets boundaries, like this is not something not something we’re going to cross like, yeah, you drew that line in the sand. And they understand that. And I think that’s really important that a lot of people think that, like, if they draw that line in the sand, it’s it’s like they it has to be like a, you know, it has to be something really harsh. And it doesn’t, it’s just basically teaching them. Like, this is what we’re going to do. This is how it’s going to be this is how our it’s gonna be for our family. And that is just it’s not like it has to be something that’s, you know, like you said, not shutting the door, like walking out like you can still meet their needs, but have boundaries. And I think that’s really important to understand. Well, absolutely. I think a lot of parents that come to us as sleep coaches, right, go, we’ve tried all of this, and it doesn’t work. And my response is you’re doing it wrong, right? Like we’re parenting coaches more than anything else. Because I think, to your point, there’s that level of
first understanding what their child’s timing should be and their hormones, right? Like, if kids get overtired, it’s always going to be worse. Then it’s about creating consistency in the routine, right? I get it kids have sports, they have homework, they have their friends, you have the reality of summer and stuff, like there are certain realities and things like that, that that I get, right but at the same time, like sleep trumps all of it, you know, and and when you have that inconsistency that just becomes the norm. Kids are always going to push the boundaries, but most parents don’t consequence because I don’t think they understand or to your point, it has a negative connotation to it, right? Like when we come in and work with families privately like you’re gonna look at, what are they doing? I just had a family that was giving their kid the tablet when he woke in the morning during breakfast. He was at daycare all day so when he got home from daycare during dinner, they held it during the bath for him and then he had it during bedtime.
Yeah, what’s the most obvious thing to do? Take away the tablet. Oh, and then take away the chocolate milk and gummy bears that you were giving him because he demanded it during the bedtime. He’s three, like, so some of it is obvious to us in what we do, right? I’m not saying it’s obvious to every parent. And I don’t mean that in like a negative way. But some of that kind of stuff. It’s like, take a step back and go, let me assess what’s happening here. Right. But then the next thing is, are you actually implementing some aspect of a consequence, right? Like, if you tell your child Don’t touch that stove, it’s hot. I don’t want you to burn your hand. Right? And you say, Don’t touch that. Please don’t touch stay away from the stove. It’s hot Little Billy. Right? And Little Billy goes up and goes. What does he do? He burns his fingers. Do you think he ever touches that stove again? No. Because the consequence outweigh the reward. Right? It’s the same thing with sleep. Right? So like, if I was a parent going, okay, Courtney, I’m hearing you and Angela. Like, I’m picking up what you’re putting down, I need to first set a bedtime that I need to set a routine. And then I need to know that I’m willing to read only one book not seven. I’m willing to rub their back but only for five minutes. And then I’ll meet them in the middle somewhere, right. Like, I’m willing to let them lie at a hair twirler. She told her mom’s hair for 90 minutes every night, right? And I’m like, Well, do you let her do that? She’s like, Yeah, I don’t know what else to do. She freaks out. I’m like, Okay, well, that’s a boundary like, you can either wrap my hair for 10 minutes, or not at all. Right? And that’s the boundary 10 minutes or not at all. She’s the one choosing the little girl. But you know, so like, this is a lot of what we get into in the in the private coaching. But like, if somebody was listening today going, alright, well give me something. Where do I start? What are some consequences? I know you talked a little bit about, like using reward charts and sticker charts and like prize boxes, you know, don’t think you have to go out to target and spend $4 on things like my kids use popsicle sticks. So like we use popsicle sticks at the top of them. Red is a consequence. Green is a good so they do everything they’re supposed to and stay in their bed and go to bed without a fight. You know, and my kids are little robots now because obviously blame the day job. But like if they don’t, when they get up in the morning, there’s a consequence. And they wrote the consequences. So like no TV, you know, no, my daughter would, you know, kind of her arm to have a Tootsie Roll. Right? So it’s like no treats, and they get one tree today. So it’s like, that impacts her if I just said, you know, no play dates, like they may not care because they weren’t gonna have a playdate today. But like, again, it has to be something of value. This one’s no sleepovers, she’s dying for a sleepover, right? And so I put all these in a little rice mason jar, which I used to have here, but my daughter took it. So you know, I put all these in a mason jar, and they pick in the morning, like, what are some other things that parents can do today to say, You know what, alright, let me start with some things. And then see if I need to reach out for some sleep coaching and help, right? What are some other things parents can do? I mean, the biggest thing I think, is just talking to your kid, like and explaining like, what that’s going to be like, you know, what you’re going to do have a plan, I think that’s the biggest thing is to have a plan. Like, I know that I’m going to start this process, and then have a plan of like, what you’re going to do, like, tell your kid Hey, when you go to bed tonight, this is what it’s going to be like, and then do it be consistent. I think that’s like, the biggest thing, consistent single, where a lot of our clients, you know, fail is there’s not consistent, like, try it for two days and be like, Oh, it’s not working. And it’s like, Well, okay, two or three days, that’s nothing. I mean, like, you don’t, you can’t I mean, when you go to the gym, right? Like, I mean, go to the gym, or three days, I mean, you’re not going to come out, like with the six pack, just because you you know, did two or three days worth of situps. Like not like that, like it takes it takes time. And you just got to understand, you got to build it, like talk to those kids build it, implement that bedtime, get that routine, you know, figure out what your boundaries are, and then just get in there and do it. Like do it like pick one thing. I mean, it doesn’t have to be, you don’t have to, like, you know, rip that band aid off. You know, like that, like, I mean, you can, that’s, that’s fine. Like, go for it if you feel like start with like one little thing, like, if you know, like, Okay, I got the tour, you know, pull my hair for an hour and a half and just fall asleep, but then just cut it down, like to an hour, you know, like, start setting those boundaries, cut it down to 15 minutes, whatever it is, but start setting those boundaries now and tell your kid this is what’s going to be like it’s all about communication. I think that’s
is you’ve got to communicate also you make sure like you get your you know, your partner in on this too. Like that’s important as well is to get your partner in there. Like being be each other’s cheerleaders, and just really like, you know, set those boundaries. You know, even with your partner, like you might have to say, hey, look, I know that you don’t mind sitting in the chair for 45 minutes with you know, with Billy but then in the middle of night, you’re not willing to get up and do that. But I have to now because you’ve set that expectation. Like we’re not going to do that anymore. Like that’s not going to happen Billy is not I’m not going to spend 45 minutes to an hour every single night in the middle of the night to sit with Billy because you do it at bedtime. Like we’re going
You know, get on the same page here, the whole family, you’re gonna have those boundaries. So I think it’s all about like, you know, the communication with the kid communication with with any other caregivers, everybody so that everybody knows those boundaries and those expectations that are we’ve got to meet from now on. Yeah, I think that’s the most important, like be consistent pick a thing and stick to the thing and if you’re consistent, honestly, if you make the changes and you’re consistent with the boundaries, and then consequently that behavior, and the consequence has to mean something, right. So if you’re consistent, it takes about seven days, right? Parents feel lost, they sometimes don’t know what to do. They’re like, I’ve tried some of this, it doesn’t work out what the heck we’re doing. We need your help. Where do they find you, Angela? Like, if somebody was like, Okay, this is really good. I’m still feeling lost and confused. Like, well, tell us a little bit about how we can find you and your email and how people can get in touch. Yeah, so you can find me if you go to tiny transitions.com the slumber squad you can find me under Angela Stewart in Austin, Texas. I’m also on Instagram,
sleeper on Instagram. You can also find me i hanging out in his
group. And that’s a really great community. If you want to join us. It’s
slim, simple. Think about it. Schlemmer made simple and great group. Also, you can find me at Angela at Tiny transitions.com. I’m here for to help you out. And yeah, so I mean, I just love what I do. And I love working with Courtney and the rest of the team. And I love working with parents and kids and especially toddlers, because as we’ve been talking about, it’s all about like, it’s really about behaviors. It’s all about like figuring out, like, what makes them tick, like, what are you going to do to what makes them tick? And like how can you like use, like, use their little personalities to get them to do what you want is, you know, it’s really what it is. I mean, it’s like, kind of like that balance, like, Okay, I know, my kid is really strong willed. So I’m going to use that like, as a positive, you know, like, I’m not going to look at as a negative and use it as a positive. You know, I have my middle son has really struggled. And we use that in our benefit, like we work hard to use that like towards our benefit, like, okay,
so I’m going to use your stubbornness to, like, get you to do what I want by encouraging you in a way they know that you really want some pain. And when you really want something you work hard to get there. You know, and so we use that. So you just have to figure out like what you know, really what makes your kid tick. It’s all about what makes your kid tick, and using those uses to get what you want. Awesome. I love it. I’m so excited. And just to make sure everybody got that. So you can financial aid in the Facebook community called the slumber made simple Facebook group. It’s a free community. Angela at Tiny transitions.com Find her on the website. She’s in Austin, Texas, and she’s on Instagram at the happiest sleeper, so be sure to tune in to more future episodes. I hope you’ve enjoyed this today and learned a few things that you can do in your toddler. So thank you, Angela for joining me, and I look forward to helping as many toddlers as we can to get better sleep.
Thank you, Courtney, man. It’s a pleasure and i i hope you guys reach out because that’s what we love to do. Awesome. Thank you.
Hold on. One more thing before you go. As a valued listener of the kids sleep show. I want to help you build a great sleep or not just in the times you’re listening to the show. But all day every day, every week of the year. I have a new Facebook group called slumber made simple it’s a place to gather with other parents looking for sleep support laughs and the latest in sleep research to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support weekly training sessions unbelievable content and so much more. Head on over to tiny transitions.com forward slash community that’s tiny transitions.com forward slash community are head over to Facebook and search slumber Made Simple. drop me a note and let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.