Bedtime with toddlers is something they do not warn you about. It can be a very trying time of day! They would rather play, and think that by going to bed they are missing something. My 5 year old still asks from time to time to lay on the couch instead of her bed. I have listed some of my parenting tips below on how to get your 3 year old to stay in her bed at bedtime.
Parenting Tips: Getting Your 3 Year Old to Stay in Bed
Stay With Her: I do not mean until she falls asleep, that would be one of the worst parenting tips, now wouldn’t it? I did that with my daughter and I began to loathe bedtime because she just took too long to fall asleep. Now I turn on classical music for my her, tell her I am going to rub her back for one song, then I am going to the living room. She is to be quiet during this time and close her eyes. Most of the time she is not asleep, but when the song is over, I give her a kiss, tell her I love her and I leave. If she gets up, I walk her back, tell her she needs to stay in bed like a big girl, kiss her and leave. If she gets up again, I walk her back, no kiss. A third time? Walk her back, say nothing and leave. She will get the idea that she needs to stay in bed and getting up is not getting her anything.
Routine: Kids thrive on routine. It helps that they know what to expect. Bedtime should be no different. Let your child know ahead of time that she is getting ready for bed soon and do this at the same time everyday. Then follow the same routine: pajamas, brush teeth, wash face and hands, read a book. However you want to do it, but do it at the same time every night and in the same order. Before you leave the room, remind her that she needs to be a big girl and stay in bed.
Chart: Make a visual together. Pinterest has lots of great parenting tips and ideas for this! Making a chart with pictures and what she is to do to get ready for bed will be helpful for her. Also something she can look forward to. Make it magnetic or with Velcro so she can move the pictures from ‘To Do’ to ‘Done’. She will feel a sense of accomplishment! It makes bedtime a big deal and prepares her for staying in bed. Always reminding her that she needs to stay in bed once she is in.
Sticker Calendar: I tried this with my daughter and it worked (then we moved and I never put it back up). Purchase a monthly calendar at the dollar store and let her pick out some stickers, this way she knows she is a part of this. My daughter picked out a Minnie Mouse calendar and Mickey Mouse stickers. I hung the calendar at her level and put the stickers in a plastic baggie and tacked it by the calendar. For every night that she stays in bed without getting up, she gets to put a sticker on the calendar. My daughter looked forward to this every morning. Of course there were times she was unable to put a sticker on the day, and I had to explain the meaning of the sticker, she needs to stay in bed in order to get a sticker. At the end of each week she got something special (a toy from a box of stuff from the dollar store or going for ice cream). You have to have some sort of reward!
None of these parenting tips are going to be magical and work overnight. It is going to take a little bit of time and patience on your part to stick with it. The important part is to remember to not lose your temper (admittedly, that can be hard!) Keep in mind that this phase will not last forever, and then a new one will pop up!
Have you dealt with this in the past and found something that has worked for you? Maybe your mom has given you some parenting tips that helped to keep your toddler in bed at bedtime. Share your own parenting tips below!