How to get a defiant 3 year old to go to bed....?!?!

Amy - posted on 07/18/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )

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We just moved our 3 year old into a new bedroom and twin sized bed because we're expecting another baby. Before, he was in his crib-turned-day bed with a railing so he didn't roll out, and he rarely climbed out of that bed although he knew he could. We've had a very consistent and successful bedtime routine, and he's been very excited about his baby sister coming and moving into a "big boy" room. A few days before we moved him, he started acting up at bedtime. We thought it was because he'd taken a nap too late in the afternoon and he wasn't tired, but I think I've ruled that out because he continues to do this even if he hasn't napped, or took a short nap early in the day at daycare. He's pretty cooperative with our usual bedtime routine, but when we take him into his room, he just climbs up into his bed and starts jumping around and playing. We're stern with him and tell him he needs to lay down and rest; I've offered to read him an extra book in bed; offered to sit next to him; we've threatened him with consequences; we've even tried physically holding him down. He thinks it's all a game, although he whines if we try to hold him down and says he'll lay there, but as soon as we let him go, he's back up. I know we can't force him to sleep, but I don't know what to do. His old room had a lock on the outside, so on rare occasions if he wouldn't stay in bed, we'd use that as a last resort. I hate doing it because I don't want him to associate his room with being punished, but this new room doesn't have a lock anyway and he can get over a baby gate. If we shut the door, he just gets out of bed and starts pulling out all his toys and slamming his fire truck into the door, etc. I've heard of people who just let the child do whatever in there until they pass out, and I guess that's an option as a last resort for us, but I'd rather not because I know he'll be awake for a long time and completely destroy his room. It's so important that he gets to bed on time because I work 10 hour shifts (every other week) and he's in daycare at my work. So I have to wake him up at 6:30am, and we don't get home until 6:30pm. We have to get him fed, bathed, into PJs, through his bedtime routine and into bed within 1-1 1/2 hours. I know that's super rushed but it's never been a problem until now. It's so important that he falls asleep around 8pm so he can get 10 1/2 hours of sleep, which even that isn't quite enough. My husband and I are at our wits ends and don't know what to do to improve the situation. Any advice or comments would be appreciated!

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Nicky - posted on 07/19/2012

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If you havent read my post about helicopters,drill sargeants and consultants, it might help you if you did. I recently learned about these types of parents and the type of parent I was. There is only 1 stress free way to be and thats being a consultant. I know you want him to go to bed so he is not tired, but its almost impossible to make someone sleep if they are not ready to. I have a 4 year old and an 11 yr old and as I said just recently learned to not stress my self out with things like this and it works. You can tell your child that they have to get up early so they have to get a good nights sleep. Does he have a tv in his room? If so tell him its quiet time and he needs to stay in bed and watch cartoons because mommy and daddy have to get sleep and so does he so he can wake up happy the next morning. Tell him the tv will shut off at a certain time and thats when he has to be sleeping by(set the self timer). I also used to try to make my son go to sleep and all it does is stress you out more then anything. So i set my sons tv and he is usually asleep before his tv shuts off. The more you demand him to sleep the less he is going to listen this is being a drill sargeant parent and it does not work. Ive recently changed my parenting ways and i can say i am way less stressed then I was before. If you can..try to find my post on helicopters, drill sargeants and consultants it may help you. I know it helped me :) goodluck!!

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Nicola - posted on 07/27/2012

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I lay down with my son and sometimes end up sleeping too. But he loves to snuggle with mommy and he loves going to sleep like that. When he's sleeping, then I go sleep in my own bedroom.

I guess every parent has a different style of parenting. Its never worked for me, to lock him in his room and he tends to zombie out in front of the television. He would never go to sleep if the tv was on.

Megan - posted on 07/20/2012

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My son also climbed the child safey gates and what we did for awhile is to put 2 of them on top of each other so it was impossible for him to climb. He was about 2 when we started this and I explained to him that until he learned to stop climbing he had to have both gates there. After awhile he would ask for only 1 gate and said he wouldnt climb so we gave him the chance. After a few successes and failures he has now learned never to climb the baby gate. As far as him sleeping the best thing Ive found is that I dont force my son to sleep because then he just fights that much more but he is required to lay in bed with the light off even if he has a small toy or something to play with. Most of the time after 15 or 20 mins he gets bored and falls to sleep.

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