- Why does my toddler demand me?
- What causing manic crying with my toddler at bedtime?
- What is they prefer my husband over me for bedtime?
- What steps should I put in place to get time back for me and get them sleeping through the night without waking?
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
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. Hey, everyone, welcome to this week’s episode of the Kids sleep show. I’m Courtney Zentz, the founder of tiny transitions and I’m chatting with you today all about toddler bedtimes. Whoo. We have a lot of clients who have toddler tornados that come to us and parents are exhausted, they’re a bit strung out. And they’re really trying to figure out how to get their toddler to sleep well. So you’ve come to the right place, because we’re going to start with the most critical part of your toddler’s day, which is that bedtime. So many families come to us saying, you know, when will my toddler settle independently at bedtime? When will my toddler sleep through the night? Why does my toddler wakes several times overnight and come into my room, right? So we’re going to cover all those different things today and the five parts that you can sort of set up so that you minimize this over the course of about a week, it does take about a week to see some of these changes. So you have to be consistent, but we’re going to talk about what those are, why it’s important, and why you get started today. So first and foremost, we’re talking about bedtime, right? It’s almost back to school time here in Philly, and my kids bedtime is drastically getting cut back. You know, in the summer, we get a little more flexible, they’re six and eight. But you know, it’s time to get back to business. And I want my kids waking, refreshed and restored after they have had these long, crazy days. So children at the toddler age, which I typically define as kind of that two through five, they needed approximately 11 to 14 hours in total sleep. Right? So you’ve got to start to look at your schedule and go okay, where should my kid be getting that sleep? Is it you know, 11 hours? overnight and a two and a half hour nap? Do you prefer a two hour nap with 12 hours overnight, right? You’ve got to kind of play with your own unique child’s age body clock and what works for your day and your schedule. Okay? When you have a kid who doesn’t go to bed at the right time, maybe bedtime for you is taking a long time your toddler is stalling. They are requesting that you lay with them. They are freaking out about something and waking up and coming out 74 times before they actually fall asleep. And before you know it, it’s 10 o’clock at night. Those are all signs that we’ve got some challenges there with your child getting overtired, right, because when these delays happen, it ends up building up what’s called adenosine. Adenosine is a sleep pressure hormone. The buildup of that adenosine then causes stimulation, right like so if it has too much adenosine in the brain, the brain says alright, well, if you’re not going to go to sleep, and you should be let me help you out with some stimulant hormones. So then your body gets flooded with stimulant hormones at the time your kids trying to unwind and go to bed. Right? Not super helpful. So it’s almost like they, you know, snort a pixie stick before passing out. And then they’re wired and can’t calm down, they often get manic, lots of tears, you know, all that kind of stuff and the inability to regulate those emotions. So bedtime is critical as the start and pillar of all of this, right? I think that for children in this age range, you should be asleep somewhere between seven and eight o’clock lights off and you’re sleeping, right? It’s important that kids get that restorative rest. And the most consolidated independent restorative sleep is kind of the first five hours. So really between like eight and about two o’clock in the morning is when your kids are in the deepest restorative sleep, right? That goes for adults too, which is why often the back half of the night ends up being the worst where kids are waking constantly. It’s because their sleep clock is different. And they don’t get into that deep deep restorative sleep, they kind of ping pong between REM sleep and light sleep for the rest of the night. So that’s often where you see some of these challenges that start to manifest from bedtime into the overnight. So part one, get your kid down at a reasonable bedtime. Make sure you look at their schedule and work backwards to know if they gotta catch the bus at 638. They got to go to bed earlier than they would probably like but they also got to get up earlier than they’d like as well.
So after you have bedtime set you’ve got to look at what that wind down pure period looks like. You know in my house my kids both have blue light blocking glasses. I got them for 10 or 12 bucks for both on Amazon and the blue light blocking glasses are amazing for TV. For tablets. My kids don’t generally get tablets at night ever. Frankly. You know they do watch TV, you know after dinner kind of thing. And if there is ever a situation where they’re exposed to blue light, maybe we’re doing like movie night on the lawn or you know it’s a Friday night and we’re watching a family movie. They will put those blue light blocking glasses on to make sure that they’re not impacted from that light blue lights a stimulant. Right. And it comes off of a lot of different devices but that stimulant triggers the brain to think you’re trying to stay awake. Which Why is adult a lot of us say You know, I’m going to use my phone as an alarm clock and you peek at it at three in the morning just to see what’s happening on Instagram. And then all of a sudden, you can’t fall back to sleep. Even with your blue light blocking protection on which many phones have now you still get some aspect of that exposure that stimulates your brain and your brain thinks, hey, it’s time to get up. Okay? So you want to make sure you have a wind down period. From no tablets, no TV, the recommendation is somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes. Frankly, I’ve seen it researched both ways. I think an hour is a safe bet. Like if kids are going to have screen time, they need to do it kind of after dinner. But before things start to kick off for bed, I’ll tell you, I had a toddler client once and the parents came to me. And we solved their little guys sleep challenges. He was three years old. And they came to me saying he demands the iPad, when he wakes up, he demands the iPad. When he eats breakfast, he demands the iPad after a full day of daycare, when he gets home, he demands the iPad during dinner, he demands the iPad during bath. And then he watches movies with mom or dad during the bedtime put down process. And I’m like, Okay, there’s a whole lot of excess blue light exposure, there’s a whole lot of tablet time in there that we need to drastically dial back. And no toddler at three shouldn’t be demanding anything, right? So you know, we’ve got to start to set some limits, the cool part about devices is you can actually limit them to turn off. So you have to set a boundary that works for your family to say you are allowed this amount of screen time, all screens included every single day. I think it’s also a show of solidarity. And frankly, good practice, if as a family, you have a place where the devices all go to go to sleep, we haven’t taken our phones into our bedroom in years. Neither my husband nor I have any devices in the bedroom, we read old fashioned books, we do have tablets, but we choose to read our books because we don’t want that exposure. And my kids are the same. So you know, it’s important that if you are going to have the devices that you have that like no screen time kind of rule, or at least use the blue light blocking glasses to make sure you’re minimizing any of that exposure. You know, reading stories is amazing. I think, you know, the research continues to obviously talk about the benefits of reading to kids, we’ve read to our kids every night since they were born. Sometimes they’re not totally into it other nights. They’re totally into it. And they don’t want to go to sleep. But we try to balance that with like, look, we’re doing at least a story here. We’re going to read sometimes we do what are called awesomes. And I learned this actually from one of my coaches and as a family every day we say three awesomes and one not awesome, we will typically do it at dinner. If we don’t have dinner that night because of sports and the craziness of having you know, two kids who are very active, we will do it at bedtime. So each one of us goes through and gives three things that were awesome today only. And then three, or excuse me, and then one thing that’s not awesome, and it’s actually a really nice way to communicate with kids and to start to understand what’s going on in their mind because I’m often surprised at the things that my kids will say that were awesome. And then also sometimes the thing they say that was not awesome. That is actually surprising to me. You know using this wind down period to get those cuddles in fill your kids cup. If they want to cuddle with you at bedtime. There has to be a breaking point where you say okay, but Right. This isn’t cuddle until they fall asleep. It’s cuddle okay, but Right. So, you know using that time to do the cuddles to have the fun. I know that’s a super important part. You know, my kids love cuddles. Every night we do. Like the snuggle sandwich they
call it so I hug my son and then my daughter sneakily jumps on my back or I hug my daughter and then my son jumps on my back and we tickle each other and call it a snuggle sandwich. And that’s always just been a little bit of a thing we’ve done here as a joke and the kids love it because they think they’re sneaking up on me every night. Make it fun, but also make it a time to wind down it’s ready to rest right you got to reset, my kids will go to bed with a light on my son has one of those lights that clip onto his bunk bed my daughter has a reading light that clips on to her books so that at the end of the day they can choose to read and they can unwind as they fall asleep themselves or we use his animal one of my favorite products ever invented it is a device free meditation for children. So I’ll link to it in the show notes but there’s animals amazing and my kids will fall asleep to that every night and it’s funny because sometimes I’ll hear it going on in their room and all fall asleep with it as well. Oops we some device going off that one happened to be Skype sorry about that guys. So the best thing you can look at though is that zoo animal is a great way to like unwind and disconnect as it relates to you know, falling asleep so have that time period where you say okay, it is now time to rest and everything else is going off go to bed here you know your meditations on the next part of that obviously would be like the right routine So this sort of ties into the wind down period, like what are the things that you’re doing in the process of getting ready for bed? That is, you know, kind of consistent and expected, I will say that a powering your kids to be in control is super helpful. Kids want to be in control of something, right. And so by giving kids the ability to be in control of this aspect of the routine helps them to feel like they’ve got some aspect of independence, they’ve got some say in what’s happening, you know, and it can look something like this. You can choose to brush your teeth, or I will do it for you. Right?
Would you like to choose this book or this book? Right? Do you want these pajamas are these pajamas so you’re empowering them to make choices versus just dictating?
Did you brush your teeth? Did you floss? Did you put your pajamas on put your pajamas on told you put your pajamas on, right? So if they don’t, then the ask is that you’re not going to get to read you either pick this book or this book. Now I want that book. Okay, well, then we’re not reading tonight. And you’ll see how quick kids go up. All right, well, then I’ll take that book. Right. So just having a routine that you feel good and confident about is super important. Looking at things like the boundaries, right? Are you laying in bed with your kids, so they fall asleep? are you rubbing their back, I had a client once who hair twirled for 90 minutes, the moms like my hair’s falling out, and I have dreadlocks. I can’t do this every night. And by the time we were done working together, the girl was permitted to hair twirl for five minutes. If she did not like that she got nothing. And mom stepped out of the room, right. And we gradually worked on resetting a behavior, while gently and effectively moving mom out of that room in a way that the girl was confident and comfortable with while empowering her, but also building her confidence, right? So it’s a balance. It’s not saying oh my gosh, you can never snuggle again or never hear twirl again. Like that’s not it, it’s that you can’t do it in perpetuity to get your kid to sleep because it’s a behavior your kids know how to sleep they are choosing not to. Because the alternative is more fun. I want to get in mommy’s bed, I want Mommy to come in my bed, I want to hair twirl, right, so you have to set boundaries, and then clearly explain those boundaries to your children make sure they understand. And if they don’t comply with a boundary, what happens, right? Like anything in life, there’s generally a consequence to the behavior, right? If you don’t wear your bicycle helmet, and you’re riding your bike, and you fall off your bike and crack your head, what happens probably get a concussion, most parents don’t want that, right. So you’re not allowed to ride your bike until you put your helmet on. That’s a hard boundary. Right. And there’s a consequence to that, which is either you can put your helmet on, or you can go to your room, or you can crack your skull open and get stitches at the hospital and hope you don’t have a concussion. Right? So like, when you talk about boundaries, I think a lot of parents see the word boundary as like, you know, I want my kid to be free and make choices. Well, yeah, you know, so do I. But I also don’t want my kid diving in the pool without a parent in the hopes that, you know, they they can go swimming, and then they drowned. Right? So like, as parents, it’s important that we create boundaries, because kids actually feel really confident and comfortable when there is a boundary and they’re aware of it. They will always try to push them as they’re learning independence. But keeping and maintaining a boundary that says, Look, I’ll lay in bed with you for this amount of time. But when that timer goes off, I am moving to XYZ, right? And then that’s going to depend on what you’re doing. And you know, obviously, some of this starts to get into the coaching side of things depending on your unique situation. But you have to create a boundary and then you have to create consequences that matter. Right? If I tell my daughter to go on the stairs, for timeout, right? She’ll look at me and go, I don’t care, Mommy, I sit on the stairs all day, you know, like she doesn’t care. It’s not a consequence to her to me, it might be go to timeout, she doesn’t care. So her behavior doesn’t change, right. But if I pick her up and put her in her bedroom, which by the way has like, glitter sparkles, lights everywhere. Nail Polish makeup, American Girl dolls. I mean, it’s a party in there, right? She thinks she’s going to prison, because I’ve closed the door and I’ve set her on her bed. That’s it. Right? And that’s like World War Two breaks out here with his aunt’s house and so that that’s a consequence to her because she feels like she’s missing out. Right? So you’ve got to look at your unique child and figure out like, what are they missing out on? Right? And what do they care about? For my kids as they grew through the toddler years, what I would do and what I actually recommend a lot of my clients do is figure out together as a team, like, what kids want and what they don’t particularly care for. Right? So in the morning, my kids, you know, not as much anymore but when they were toddlers, I had popsicle sticks that I would have them sit with me and right on you had the red tipped ones they were the reward. The blue tipped ones were the consequences. And every morning after kids got up, depending on how that night went, they either got to pick a reward stick or a consequence stick and the sticks contained things that they wrote. I want to go to the park. I’d like a treat. I want to have a cuddle date. I want to watch on the iPad for 15 minutes right? Or there’d have consequences. No play dates, no sleep. Was it grandma’s no treats no dessert? No, I’ve had time, you know, all of those different things that they were kind of controlling. And then in the morning, if they didn’t do as we asked, which, frankly, is appropriate, we weren’t asking for anything crazy, then they didn’t get the thing. They had to pick a consequence stick. If they did everything they were supposed to like settling well, for bedtime, not calling out or coming to you in the middle of the night, they got then a reward stick in the morning. So there’s a lot of different ways that you can do this, it really comes around to as a parent, setting a boundary enforcing the boundary, and then consequently, that choice or behavior, you know, and again, it just has to be something that kids care about, you
say the word consequences, and everybody gets up in arms. It’s like, well, yeah, there should be consequences. Kids don’t rule the roost at three years old, right? A three year old should not be demanding an iPad be held for them during a bath, like, you know, and maybe that’s just me, and I’m crazy, but like I you know, I just, I can’t fathom that. That happens, but it obviously happens because it happens to my clients. And it’s just like, oh my gosh, guys, like how did this get out of control, but it’s alright, like, we’re judgment free zone here. I’m like, Alright, we gotta cut this out. And, you know, we help these families to transition back to what they would consider normalcy, to reconnect with their partner, to have a kid who says good night and goes to sleep without you sitting in there for two hours, right? And it’s, it’s so important for their mental and physical recuperation, right, like sleep is when they rejuvenate the same for you, you gotta have some time to yourself, you gotta have time to unwind. And frankly, you got to get good, consolidated, restorative, independent sleep, right. So hopefully, these five different parts to your bedtime routine will help you to just ultimately figure out what’s working in your family, what’s not, you know, again, just to recap, kind of start with looking at bedtime, and what time it set for and work backwards on that unwinding period. Make sure that you have a nice routine in place. And then make sure you’ve set boundaries and consequences with your kids. To help them understand that, you know, the behavior that they’re exhibiting is just not acceptable, right? If you need help, we are always here. We work with children of all ages, I have an amazing team. And we’re always happy to chat. We do free sleep evaluations, if you want to learn more about our coaching opportunities, and we also guarantee all of our results so you have a no risk way to get your kid to sleep. And we guarantee that you’ll get that success. So always lots of good stuff there. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Thanks so much for tuning in. Be sure to click subscribe if you want to hear from me every single week with new episodes and I hope you have a beautiful rest of the day. Thanks so much for tuning in. Bye for now. 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 sleeper 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 transition stuff comm forward slash community or 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.