We’ve all been there, you’ve done baths, dinner and now you’re hustling your young ones into bed because all of you are tired from the day (especially you, mama!) Bedtime battles are a real thing, and I’m here to offer you my own experience with it.
Why do bedtime battles happen?
Well, this is not actually an easy question to ask as they can happen at any stage of a child’s life but the most common is around the ages of 3-6.
Remember that the first three years of life, kids are still very much attached to the primary caregiver, so transitioning to their own bed or a bigger sized bed into their own room, can actually be quite daunting for them.
Add in the fact that most young kids are at nursery or daycare at this point, so probably don’t see their parents for the most of the day – of course at night there’s a need to connect before being able to fall asleep.
So here are some reasons it could be happening:
- They are afraid of the dark (yep, even night lights don’t do the trick sometimes)
- A younger sibling has arrived into the family
- They are anxious about something at school
- They’re going through a separation
- They’re learning to sleep in their own room
Determine the cause before anything else
Before trying to treat the symptoms, it’s essential to know the cause, which isn’t always easy. However, taking the time to single out reasons that the ‘pushback’ behaviour is happening, is key to finding a solution.
At the root of every emotional outburst, is an unmet need waiting to be seen and validated – this goes for both you AND your child.
If your child is of an age in which they can decently express themselves or you can determine what their basic needs are, then go ahead and ask them what they need in the moment.
You’d be surprised at how well they can express themselves when given a chance.
Sure, you might also get ridiculous answers about needing extra scoops of ice cream 😂 but it’s worth the try.
One thing that you can try is to write out a little list that they need daily, then pin it on their bedroom wall as a reminder.
Is it bad behaviour or is it something else?
I strongly believe that even if children do push us to our limits and stretch our boundaries, they don’t do so on purpose.
Our kids need to know what our boundaries are, which is what we set on a daily basis – sometimes the boundary is either not clear, has not been communicated properly or it needs reinforcing.
Secondly, I also believe that each child functions differently, with a different character and set of behaviours. We can’t use a cookie cutter one-size fits all approach to how we handle children.
The important of self-regulation
That night, for the first time when we walked up those stairs and I put her back to bed, she finally felt safe enough to fall asleep – in less than five minutes.
What I was missing is that I needed to create a sense of safety. She felt like a prisoner in her bed.
Once I switched the focus from her behaviour to a need to to regulate, everything changed. I saw myself helping her, rather than being in a battle. I saw us collaborating and cooperating to find a solution.
Developing and maintaining intuition
Will what I did that night work every time from now on and forth? No, probably not, but I realized that when it gets tough for me, I tend to reach out and start listening to advice left right and centre.
This goes for any area of your life, not just your kids but maybe your business too or romantic life.
What if we reached inwards? What if we centered? What if we got quiet for a moment enough to hear our own inner voice ?
It requires strength and consistency to show up for yourself and be willing to change. There are days in which you just haven’t had a break, you might want to give up but it’s exactly in those moments that we need tune into our inner voice.
Why are bedtime battles so hard?
I hear so many parents that are struggling with bedtime and the main thing that comes up time and time again is the fact that they are just sheerly exhausted at the same time that their kids are bouncing off the walls.
There is such a contrast in energy, it is only natural that conflicting feelings arise.
Throw in the mix the classic threenager – the age of defiance and you’ve got yourself a good recipe for banging your head against the wall.
Parents everywhere are you ready to have an ounce of Silence, a moment to themselves in the day how to re calibrate and when that doesn’t come, it’s frustrating for everyone.
How can you end bedtime battles?
Well, I hate to break it to you you, but I don’t think there is a real solution other than:
gritting your teeth and getting on with it whilst holding space for yourself to get grounded and be able to to show up for your kids in a way that makes you proud.
Most of all, understand that it is not only you going through this and you can be supported. Just because your kids have a hard time at bedtime, does not mean that they are bad kids or that you’re failing as a mother.
Give yourself Grace the times that you don’t managed to keep your patience, apologise when necessary and strive to do better with each day.