“Dear God, just get me to bed time.” What parent hasn’t uttered those words at least one (billion?) times?
For me, bed time is not my favorite time of day. Not at all. We have very serious power struggles at bed time. My 4-year-old, in particular, is a master at making the getting-to-bed process as painful as possible.
And before you suggest it, here are all the things I’ve already tried:
- Creating a predictable bed time routine
- Limiting screens in the evening
- Limiting sugar
- Bed time yoga
- Bed time meditation
- Giving him a warm bath
- Letting him sleep with a night light
- Letting him sleep in my room
- Snuggling with him in his bed
- Using a sound machine
- Rubbing his back
- Telling him stories
- Demanding that he just freakin LISTEN TO ME FOR CRYING OUT LOUD IT IS BED TIME AND HE’S FOUR YEARS OLD!
And just for fun, here are a few things I have not yet tried but have seriously considered:
- Prescription opiates
- Belt-buckle restraints like those things you see in the movies
- Electrifying his bedroom doorknob after 8:00 pm
(Obviously, I’m kidding. Sort of.)
Here’s the thing. It’s great that some things work for some kids, and it’s normal that they don’t work for other kids. I used to think that if something worked for most kids, then they were supposed to work for every kid. This just isn’t true. And anyone who says differently is selling something.
(For the record, I don’t actually believe that life is pain. I just really love The Princess Bride.)
Here’s what (sometimes) works for my kid, for what it’s worth.
I stay calm, no matter what. No matter how loud or frustrating his behavior gets, I don’t yell, or argue.
He says, “I should get to stay up as late as I want and you should never get what you want!”
I say, “I know, bud.”
He says, “I’m never going to bed!”
I say, “Ok, bud.”
He says, “I’m going to build a country where kids stay up all night and grown ups never get their way and you’re never invited!”
I say, “I hear you.”
Then I calmly put him in his room, kiss him good night, and walk out. He screams for a few more minutes. I say nothing. Then he stops and falls asleep.
Until he gets back up an hour and a half later, but that’s another story.
What are your strategies for bed time meltdowns?