- Jessica Berk
You’re accidentally encouraging bedtime rebellion in 1 of 2 ways...
Dinner is over, the minutes are ticking by, you’re starting to feel anxious because you know what’s about to happen…. You muster up all the courage and strength that you can for the final push of the day.
Here it goes….
“Time for bed” you announce to your 3 year old with a fake smile plastered on your face.
...As if your smile could convince your bedtime-hating toddler that tonight's bedtime is going to be super-duper fun🤞
She begrudgingly heads upstairs and actually gets her PJs on without issue.
‘'Wow, maybe this is gonna be an easy bedtime’' you think to yourself optimistically.
It’s time to get her teeth brushed now, and she did a great job brushing last night so…. you’re feeling hopeful...
But then you hear it, “I don’t wanna brush my teeth!! It doesn’t feel good!!”
“But sweetie, you have to get your teeth brushed. You did a great job last night, remember?” you say in your most convincing voice.
“Well, I’m NOT doing it”. She defiant and standing with her lips pressed tight together.
At this point, we moms usually take this situation in one of two directions.
...And I can speak on this since I have extensive experience with both options 🤣
And my guess is you have some experience, too.
1. Walk on eggshells
I call it this because your #1 goal when you’re walking on eggshells is to prevent a meltdown. If she melts down then you have to calm her down - and that could take forever - and then you still have to get her to brush her teeth... so you’re not getting her to bed anytime soon if she has a meltdown.
So you’re stuck walking on eggshells, trying to reason with her, negotiate and convince. This could go on for God knows how long. And what happens more often than you want to admit? You end up giving in. You see that there is no winning and you just want to get her to bed so you say “Okay, no teeth brushing tonight but promise we will do an extra good job in the morning, ok?”
You kept her calm and got through the moment so it doesn't feel like that big of a deal, right?
The problem with this reaction is that she won. Her defiant behavior was rewarded with not having to brush her teeth. And behavior that works to get her what she wants, sticks. So, when you give in to the bedtime drama, you’re accidentally encouraging that behavior. So, you can almost guarantee that you’re going to see that same thing happen the next night.
2. Lose Your Temper
This is what I call turning into Mean Mommy. When you’ve tried to be nice but have zero patience left. You can’t handle any more arguing or complaining, you just want to get shit done and get to bed! And you just lose it. You might raise your voice, you might threaten to take away toys or screens... you basically just see red and become totally irrational trying to get through the bedtime routine. She might get scared and get her teeth brushed or she will have that meltdown you were so afraid of.
The problem with this reaction is that losing your temper sucks. And you feel guilty. It might happen immediately or it might happen once you get her to bed and you reflect on what happened. But you don’t want to have to resort to Mean Mommy in order to get through bedtime. That feels awful for everyone involved.
And there is one other BIG problem with these reactions.
A problem that you don’t even realize.
The one thing that is GOLD to your child is your attention.
Your undivided attention.
And what you may not realize is that ALL types of attention count - positive attention (walking on eggshells) or negative attention (Mean Mommy).
Do you see how both of these reactions give your child your undivided attention? Think about bedtimes the past few days. You're so hyper focused on your child in those moments. So hyper focused on getting through the bedtime routine after a long day...
... that your reaction actually encourages the sleep-rebelling behavior.
Being aware of the power of your attention is the first step in improving bedtime.
If you want to learn how to use your attention to create GOOD behavior at bedtime, I can show you. There's an exercise that you can do with your child to speed up the whole bedtime process to under 15 minutes. And actually have them be willing and excited participants (yes, that’s possible)! Jump into my mini-course 3 Days to a Better Bedtime. Learn more, >>CLICK HERE<<