Developing Routines for Toddler Who Refuses

Mandy - posted on 03/25/2011 ( 14 moms have responded )

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My son is almost 15 months old. He has been a very stubborn child from the very beginning. He has always fought sleep and it took us months of trying different methods just to get him to sleep without hours of screaming. I've been reading a lot about how bedtime routines are helpful. My problem is, he doesn't like to read books, doesn't like to be sung to. He hates going to bed. He has started to be willing to go to bed on time but there's no way he would sit still for stories or anything. I have a bit of a routine, we eat dinner, clean up, put pajamas on and brush teeth and then I rock him till he's sleepy and put him into bed. Is that good enough? I feel like I'm not doing enough cuddly sweet things but he always just wants to run around...

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Nicole - posted on 03/31/2011

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We've always had a bedtime routine, and it seems to work pretty well for us. Since our daughter was little we have always done a "after this show it's time for bed" in our routine. When she was little we could cuddle but now she plays and runs around durning the last show. Then we do the pj's, brush teeth, and we're able to read 2 books then bed. I've found some active books that we sometimes read. There's one book in particular that makes her get up and fly like a plane, roar like a lion, stop her feet, etc. I wonder if one of those kinds of books would be fun for your son? ( I think the name of the book is called Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet) I only suggest this b/c it seems like you want to read more to him...
I think you are doing fine with your son, he needs to be more active and not cuddle as much and you are providing what he needs. I think with time he'll be able to sit longer periods and you can have more cuddly moments. Keep your routine for bed and hopefully bedtime will be a smoother process. Good Luck!

Natasha - posted on 03/30/2011

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You've got ur hands full. Sounds like a real energizer bunny. If he is active then allow him to do lots of physical activities during the day then note his interest, chat with him about it , show pics , then eventually start reading simple but colouful book about it .This may take a while but dont give up . You doing great.

Mandy - posted on 03/30/2011

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Thanks everyone. Great ideas! As far as the rocking is concerned, I don't actually rock him to sleep or anything. It's usually just a couple minutes to kind of calm him down and get him to realize he's sleepy. It's kind of a nice cuddle time too since he is so active I rarely get cuddles!

Kate - posted on 03/30/2011

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It sounds like you have it down pat! It doesn't matter if he will sit for the reading of stories and such as long as he is willing to go to bed. Keep the routine you have started with the personal one on one time you have set up: he will feel loved and comforted and nod off to slumber. My only suggestion is to make it a set amount of time so that he doesn't monopolize and manipulate your time. Rock for fifteen minutes, a half hour or whatever you think is appropriate for him and then lay him down. If he resists going to sleep while rocking, the key is to be consistent and still lay him down so the routine is fixed.

Desiree - posted on 03/29/2011

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My 15 month seems to be he same way, what seems to work for us is taking a walk in our neighborhood for about 15 minutes it's more so me chaseing him up the block then we go back home for bath time after that he has his cup & off to dream land!

Sunaé - posted on 03/28/2011

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My daughter is now 3 years old, I had the same poblem. I tried everything. Someone gave me a book about the different tipes of personalities and I discovered that my child doesn't have a problem, it is her personality that is like that. She always wants to play, when I give her something to do like putting away her toys, she starts plying and doesn't do what I asked her. She does that in everything. I got a great tip and I use it till today. Every child differs, so I am not saying it will work, but it is worth giving it a try. Our routine is eat, bath, sleep. I put a little bit of dettol in her bath, you can even put something in the water that is calming, like those Johnsons and Johnsons products. Let him play. The warm water relaxes him, as soon as his body is relaxed, he get's tired and it is a lot easier to put him to bed, but you need to be firm on this, because he will take chances. I turn the light of, go and lie with her on the bed, not talking or anything and if she doesn't want to sleep I tell her I am going to leave the room if she doesn't want to sleep. I'm not sure if this will help you, but it did me. They always want to play, they make a game out of everything. Goodluck.

Arlene - posted on 03/28/2011

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Establishing a consistant bedtime routine is key...keep at it, even if you think it isnt working..children NEED routines..it lets them know what is coming up next...my guy wouldnt sit still for story time either, he would rather rip it apart. We kept at it. As they grow things change. Try pop up books, or lift the flap type of books, something to keep him busy, may help. The bath is a fantastic way to start the bedtime routine. Also, try not to put a set time limit on anything. (what i mean is if bed time is 8pm, get him to bed by 8, but dont put a time limit like 15 min in the tub, 10 min for story..ect..adjust the routine to fit into the time slot) If he is enjoying his bath, keep him in for a while longer, read one less book that night, things like that. Also Is he REALLY ready for bed after supper? Does he nap during the day? All sorts of things play a role in refusing sleep. Try to eliminate rocking the child to sleep, it will only cause more problems down the road. Also keep in mind that what works for one may not work another, but keep at it and in a few weeks or so u will see improvment!!

Mandy - posted on 03/28/2011

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Thanks so much ladies! I have added a bath to the routine. Before I was just giving him one in the morning. :) I think it's helped him calm down a little. I really appreciate you taking your time! :)

Carly - posted on 03/27/2011

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My son was the same way and has only recently started getting cuddly (he just turned 2), You couldn't get this kid to sit still for just 5 min. if you bribed him. We also set a routine- bath,bottle, bed. We are weaning from the bottle now (the bedtime one is the only one) but a little warm milk does help get him a little drowsy. We also still rock him (which totally sucks now that he's so big) but he's weaning himself from that and wanting to just lay down and have us be there until he nods. We also eliminated his afternoon nap and that helps a lot too. Oh, and white noise. He can't sleep in a totally silent room, so we turn a radio on really low to static and it helps a lot.

But don't feel guilty if he doesn't want to be read to or sung to or whatever. For now, go with what works for both of you.

Nicole - posted on 03/26/2011

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My daughter is 13 months and she isn't really into cuddling right before bed either. Sometimes she will let us read her a very short story (Goodnight Moon) but other times she isn't feeling it. We give her a soak in the tub every night as part of the bed time routine and she knows that she can be wild in the bath but then afterward it's time to settle down and start the bedtime routine.

Beth - posted on 03/26/2011

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That's a good routine, except maybe adding a bath if that is something he enjoys. I made charts for my daughter and hung them on her wall. It says, "Take a bath" then has a little picture (clip art) of a kid in a bath. Then it says, "Brush your teeth" with a picture, and continues on through "Go potty, get pajamas on, pick out a book, drink of water, read book, pray, sleep." She LOVES it! She runs in a points to the first thing, then runs to the bath. After her bath, she will run in and check to see what is next. It has REALLy helped her get ready to sleep...the paper says to sleep, so she goes to sleep! (Alright, it's not quite that easy, but it has gotten much easier!)

Cassandra - posted on 03/25/2011

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What about a bath? Anything really that's a quiet relaxing activity could help. Do a puzzle together, etc. I read and sing a song with my daughter but she loves that, or sometimes I'll let her tell me her version of a story. The point really is to help them unwind and calm down.

I also find that giving my daughter a solid time line helps. For example I'll tell her bed time in ten minutes, then again in five and then again at the two minute mark. That way she can wrap up what she's doing and be prepared. Not sure how well that would work with a 15 month old, I started to do this around the time she turned two but it could perhaps be adapted somehow.

Cassandra - posted on 03/25/2011

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What about a bath? Anything really that's a quiet relaxing activity could help. Do a puzzle together, etc. I read and sing a song with my daughter but she loves that, or sometimes I'll let her tell me her version of a story. The point really is to help them unwind and calm down.

I also find that giving my daughter a solid time line helps. For example I'll tell her bed time in ten minutes, then again in five and then again at the two minute mark. That way she can wrap up what she's doing and be prepared. Not sure how well that would work with a 15 month old, I started to do this around the time she turned two but it could perhaps be adapted somehow.

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