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Bedtime Battles

My 3 yo is making bedtime a battle every night. We have a routine we strictly stick to that has been in effect since November 2008 -- Potty, brush teeth, get dressed, counting 1-10, ABC's, read 2 stories of her choosing, read the 2 bedtime stories (My World and Goodnight Moon), then kisses and good-nights.

Once we leave the room, all h*ll breaks loose. She screams bloody murder like someone is beating her. We ask her what's wrong and she just says she wants out of her room. If we nicely put her back to her bed, she begs for another story to be read or for us to play with her...when we refuse and remind her that it's time for her to go to sleep, the screaming starts all over.

What the heck is going on with this kid?


Asked by Anonymous at 8:53 AM on Dec. 1, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

This question is closed.
Answers (8)
  • Ok, I just checked the living room to make sure my 3 year old was still there, cause I swear you just described her to a T. Lol but seriously she only does this with her Nana. I think it's because my mom gives in to whatever she wants, like "one more story" only it ends up being 5 or 6 more. When I put her to bed, I tell her beforehand how many stories I will read and that's all. If she throws a fit oh well. I agree with PP, she's testing boundaries. Right now she knows if she keeps screaming you will come back and she will win.

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:28 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • My 2 year old has all of a sudden become immune to the bed time routine as well. We were told she's testing the boundaries, and that she will probably be doing this off and on for the next few years. I guess the best thing you can do is not change the routine at all, and don't bend. I'm grateful mine isn't a screamer yet though, she's still playing the cute daddy's girl card lol

    Answer by namaste137 at 9:02 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • I think she is testing you also, I had this problem with my daughter who is 2 a few months ago and my mom sent me a article with 8 tips.
    8 Ways to Put an End to Bedtime Battles
    1. Observe your child to learn when she is really tired. It is important that you help your child get to bed when she is tired, rather than too early or too late.
    2.Make a plan. Talk through the bedtime routine before you are in the middle of it. Since everyone is tired by the time bedtime rolls around, it is easier to decide on a plan earlier in the day. Talk together with your spouse to come up with a time, a routine and a way to set limits, if necessary.
    3. Create a routine which fits everyone's needs. Bedtime routines can include: bathing, teeth brushing, stories (books and story-telling), songs, cuddling, massage, listening to music, recalling events from the day, talking about feelings, laying down together until the child falls asleep,

    Answer by jgal29 at 9:35 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • Ideally, these activities should be enjoyable for both parents and children. For many children, having a predictable, consistent routine helps them by giving them a familiar sequence they can begin to relax too. Once you have decided on your routine, you can tell your daughter what will be happening: "Tonight at bedtime, after you brush your teeth, you can choose a story to read and then I will rub your feet while I sing you a song. After that, it will be time for you to rest. Mommy and I will kiss you good-night and leave so you can go to sleep. Do you want your door open or closed?"
    4. Help your daughter make a plan for what she can do. You can talk to your daughter ahead of time about how she can help herself fall asleep. "If you are still awake after we leave the room, you could help yourself go to sleep by thinking of your favorite friend, or by holding your bear, or by singing yourself a song." If you think your

    Answer by jgal29 at 9:36 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • daughter is experiencing separation anxiety, you can offer to put pictures of you around her bed or let her listen to a tape of you singing or telling her stories.
    5. Decide on a plan for follow-through or limit-setting if necessary. Once you have completed your sweet little routine, you daughter will, no doubt, call for you, cry or get up out of bed. At that point, you need to be clear about how you are going to respond. If you really want your daughter to go to sleep by herself, your actions need to convey this to her. When she calls you or cries, you can peek your head in once and remind her that it is bedtime and that she can help herself go to sleep.
    You can tell her that if she needs to keep calling or crying, she can, but you won’t be coming in any more. If she gets out of bed, you can gently, firmly and without anger, talking or fanfare, put her back in bed. You may need to do this many times before she gets

    Answer by jgal29 at 9:37 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • the message that you are clear that she needs to stay in bed.
    If you understand that she needs to test you many times in order to learn you are serious, it may prevent you from feeling angry. It is more effective if you stay calm, clear, gentle and quiet. If you keep talking to her, lecturing her, bribing her or getting angry, she may feel compelled to continue the interaction longer.
    6. Tell your daughter the plan. "Once we leave the room, it will be your job to stay in bed and help yourself fall asleep. You can cry or call if you need to. If you get out of bed, we will put you back in bed, because it is your bedtime."
    7. Give your daughter information about the importance of sleep. "Your body needs sleep so you can have energy to play tomorrow. Sleep helps you feel better, grow and be strong."
    8. Make time to connect with your daughter during the day and/or early evening hours. If you feel like you have had

    Answer by jgal29 at 9:38 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • enough time with your daughter, it will be easier to be clear about her bedtime and to give her consistent messages that it is time for her to rest.
    There are many ways to help children find sleep. All of these suggestions have been geared to helping a child go to sleep independently in her own bed. Many families prefer to sleep in a family bed. There is no one right way. Your family can discover the way that works the best for you.

    Read more:,,48cf,00.html#ixzz0YRoxAVG6

    Answer by jgal29 at 9:40 AM on Dec. 1, 2009

  • You might also make sure that she's tired and ready for bed. We've done this drill a couple of times with our son and in each case, adjusting his nap/bedtime schedule and/or activity level during the day helped. We've also simply sat in the room with him until he fell asleep. No talking, no nothing. Just sat there. If he got out of bed, we left. We'd wait a few minutes then go back in to resettle him if necessary and try again. Each night we went through the regular routine and left. If he didn't settle, we went back in and sat. Eventually we left one night and he didn't care.

    Answer by Anonymous at 3:24 PM on Dec. 1, 2009