As parents, we can look forward to having a little peace and quiet after the kids get in bed at night. However, this is not always the case. It can also be one of the most dreaded times of the day because bedtime can also be a battleground.
Is it for you?
As a mom of eight, I have had my fair share of struggles in this area. I find that the specific battle, as well as the reason and the motivation behind the battle, can be very diverse. In many ways, each one of my children who has given me a problem in this area has been slightly different – meaning – the battle never looks completely the same.
For this reason, I’ve come up with several strategies that have all served me well over the years as battles have emerged with different kids.
As in so many things with parenting, it isn’t just a matter of correcting the behavior. It really is a matter of correcting the heart. This is best done through a gentle approach.
Therefore, these tricks take into account a softer way than perhaps some will take in gaining the upper hand in these bedtime battles. I’ve tried the stronger approach, and I can say it just isn’t effective.
I just had a mom ask me for my advice on this very thing earlier this week! The struggle is real. You are not alone.
In most cases, our kids really have a reason for challenging us at bedtime, and for this reason, it is important to be gentle in this area.
In reality, your kids could be scared, not wanting to feel left out after they are in bed, missing you if it’s been a busy day, insecure about something that is coming the next day, and so many more possibilities too numerous to count here.
Because of this, I feel keeping our children’s heart in mind throughout any strategy we might choose must be first and foremost.
In other words, in most cases, our kids aren’t causing trouble at bedtime just to cause trouble, they are trying to accomplish something, whether they realize it or not.
Embracing this truth makes it so much easier for us as parents to not feel as though we are gearing up for bedtime. In reality, we are just being proactive in meeting the needs that our kids have, even if they don’t realize they have a need in this area.
Keeping this in mind, let’s move forward with 12 strategies for overcoming bedtime battles:
(this post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you)
Establish and follow the same routine and ritual every night
I find that a regular bedtime time isn’t nearly as important as a regular bedtime routine. It is more about consistency in what you do and not in when you do it.
Play soft music
My kids love some kind of noise while they are going to sleep. Disney, classical, or something different, but no matter what they like, soft music can be a great help.
Play a book on CD or audio books streamed online
My kids LOVE this, and they also LOVE Adventures in Odyssey when they are going to sleep. Even my older kids still prefer to listen to it. You can even listen online these days. Just check out the Focus on the Family website.
Let them know what everyone will be doing
This is a great tip because so often our kids fight us on going to bed because they worry about what they will be missing out on. They keep coming out of their room just to check out what’s going on. So, tell them what everyone will be doing and that they will be going to bed in a bit, too.
Assure them of who will be there in the morning
This is another reason kids can be hesitant to go to bed, even thought they don’t really realize it. It’s a little bit of an insecurity battle that all kids struggle with when they are young, but just assure them of who will be there when they wake up.
Make sure there are no monsters in the room
If this is their issue, show them how there are no monsters in the room. Together, give the room a once over to show them that there are no unwanted guests in the room.
Give them a last minute drink
Just head this one off at the pass before you ever have to deal with it. Give them a small drink, and explain that they can have it in whatever kind of cup they want as long as they understand that this is all they get.
Take a last minute bathroom break
This is another thing you can head off at the pass. Just have them go before they get in bed. It’s so annoying otherwise. Again, explain that you expect that this will not be an issue anymore since they are taking care of it now. That extra step lets them know that you aren’t going to be strung along with this once they are in bed.
Lay me down questions
I wrote a post that shared some really great little conversation starters you can have together just to share a few special moments before bed. This is a great way to be intentional during this important part of the day. Check them out by clicking on this link. There’s even a free printable there!
Hi/low is such a cool game to play at dinner, but you can also do it at bedtime. Ask them what their high and their low was for the day.
Use special spray depending on what their struggles are
If they struggle with monsters, make monster spray. If they don’t have any specific issues, just create some “sleepy time spray.” It doesn’t have to be anything more than some water with a few drops of essential oils in a spray bottle that you spray around their room. You spray it or they can spray it, but this trick works like a charm with my kids!
Set up a reward system
Reward systems are always a good motivator, but you may need to keep changing the reward to keep it something that motivates them. Whatever you feel will work well for your individual child, set up a reward system for good bedtime behavior. It’s an old solution to a lot of things, but the reward system sticks around for good reason – it works!
If you find yourself dreading bedtime every night because it seems to be a battle ground, you just need the right equipment to gear up. In fact, it really doesn’t have to be a battle at all. Just try a few of these tips and tricks out to see what works well for you. And, be prepared to try something different down the road since our kids always like to keep us on our toes!