3 Ways to Calm Your Kid Down and Avoid Tears at Bedtime
It’s every parent’s dream: plenty of peaceful winding down time with your hyperactive toddler to get them calm so you can avoid tears at bedtime.
Funny how your kid morphs into a little Energizer Bunny right when it's time to go to bed…
Let’s dive into my top 3 sleep training tips to calm down your kiddo for bedtime. Don't miss the bonus tip I have for you at the end – it'll help jump start those calm evenings in your house.
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Sleep training tip number one: establish a consistent bedtime routine
Picture this: your toddler, who was just moments ago a sweet little angel, suddenly turns into a tiny tornado, whirling around the house and leaving chaos in their wake. You think, "How am I ever going to get this little ball of energy to sleep?" Well, fear not!
My first tip is to establish a consistent bedtime routine.
Begin by setting a specific bedtime and sticking to it. It’s key that you know the right time to put your child to bed. If you’ve just been guessing at the right time, grab my free guide to help you nail that down.
Then, create a bedtime routine that’s calming for your child. This will look different for different kids, so figure out what works best for your child. It could include activities like a warm bath, putting on lavender-scented lotion, reading their favorite story, snuggling for a few minutes, or singing soothing lullabies.
To make this even more effective, limit screen time before bed. Trust me, your little one will wind down much more easily without that stimulating blue light.
Sleep training tip number two: create a sleep-inducing environment
Now, imagine your child's bedroom as a magical sleep oasis. Sounds dreamy, right? My second tip is all about creating a sleep-inducing environment for your one. Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet – the perfect recipe for a good night's sleep.
Consider using blackout curtains to keep the room dark like a cozy cave, and a white noise machine or fan to drown out any sounds from inside the house or cars driving by.
For those kids who need a bit of extra reassurance, a dim nightlight or salt lamp can be a nice addition. Don't forget to make their bed inviting with their favorite snuggly teddy bear or blanket! In fact, it can be fun to have your child do a quick bedtime routine for their lovey and get them all cozy and tucked in.
Sleep training tip number three: teach relaxation techniques
Alright, parents, it's time to channel your inner Zen master! My third tip is all about teaching your toddler relaxation techniques to help them wind down. Imagine your kiddo peacefully drifting off to sleep as they imagine floating on a fluffy cloud, or taking deep, calming breaths as they picture themselves lying on a soft, sandy beach.
It’s really simple to guide your child through deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. The key is to engage their imagination and help them focus on something soothing and calming.
For a deep breathing exercise, teach your child to take slow, deep breaths by asking them to imagine they’re inflating a balloon in their belly as they inhale and deflating it as they exhale. Have them place their hands on their stomach to feel the rise and fall with each breath. This technique helps to calm the nervous system and promote relaxation. You can even have them imagine they’re laying on a cloud or on a warm beach.
With my 10-year-old, we end bedtime with a big hug where we take deep breaths together, co-regulating our nervous systems. It’s very calming for both of us!
For kids who seem particularly tense or anxious at night, guide them through a simple progressive muscle relaxation routine by asking them to tense and relax different muscle groups in their body.
For example, if you start with their hands, have them squeeze their hands into fists, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Move on to other muscle groups such as the arms, legs, and face, making sure to keep the instructions simple and age-appropriate.
Sleep training bonus tip: offer positive reinforcement
And now, for the bonus tip that’s going to help jump start calm evenings in your house - offer positive reinforcement!
Celebrate your little one's efforts to follow their bedtime routine and calm down for sleep. Create a sticker chart they can use to follow along with the bedtime routine. You could also offer a small reward, like choosing a new bedtime book or picking out new PJs when they consistently stick to their routine.
Remember, patience and consistency is key. It takes time for your child to adapt to new routines and develop healthy sleep habits. So put these tips into action and stick with it. You’ll be enjoying the calm and quiet that comes with avoiding tears at bedtime sooner than you think.
If your child has trouble falling asleep without you, check out this video: