12 Ways to Beat Toddlers Bedtime Tantrums

Last Updated: by Marie Seska

Getting a toddler to go to bed with out a tantrum is tough. Listening to a child throwing a nightly fit can be rough on your ears and your emotions. When my son was young he went though a period where he would cry and scream every night before bed.

At first I thought it was part of growing up but it started turning into a nightly routine! My little one’s inability to fall asleep left me exhausted!

Every parent knows bed time go can one of two ways:

In a perfect world, you read your children a few chapters from their favorite book and then they fall asleep.

In real life, your kids are in and out of bed and screaming loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. And your sitting in bed wondering, how can I get my kids to stay in bed?

Weather it is negotiations, screaming or tantrums there is a better way to put the kids to bed.

Out of nowhere our son was afraid to sleep alone and was set on letting the world know with a temper tantrum! Nothing changed about our nightly bedtime routine or his room, he just didn’t want to go to bed!

Why do toddlers throw tantrums before bed?

Understanding why children throw a fit is tough, often there is not one thing that sets them off. While all hope might seem lost as a parent you can rest easy knowing science says this behavior is normal!

12 Ways to Stop Tantrums

Try our 12 steps to fight back against nightly tantrums.

1. Avoid Soda & Sugary Drinks Before Bed

Soda, energy drinks and other high sugary drinks are unhealthy and keep kids up all night. Limit drinks after dinner to health choices like water, milk or something light like lemonade.

2. Turn of the TV and iPad in Bed

More and more kids bedrooms have a TV hanging on the wall and iPads charging on the nightstand. Video games, movies and Youtube videos can all keep children up all night – with their face glued to the screen. 

3. Get Active and Exercise after Dinner

Want you kids to fall asleep faster – then get them moving and burn off extra energy! After dinner has settled get your toddler moving with some fun family games to burn off some extra energy before it is lights out!

4. Have a Set Bed Time - And Stick To It

Toddlers live by a routine – especially when it comes to sleep. Have a set bedtime and do your best to stick to it even on the weekends. Once your toddler gets used to staying up late tantrums are sure to follow!

5. Keep A Structured Bed Time Routine

Toddlers live by a routine – especially when it comes to sleep. Have a set bedtime and do your best to stick to it even on the weekends. Once your toddler gets used to staying up late tantrums are sure to follow!

6. Sleep in Their Own Bed

Toddlers live by a routine – especially when it comes to sleep. Have a set bedtime and do your best to stick to it even on the weekends. Once your toddler gets used to staying up late tantrums are sure to follow!

7. No Toys in Bed

Toys are great when it is playtime but can be a distraction when it is time for bed. Keep toys in the play room here they belong so children can focus on what matters most – getting a good night of rest.

8. Limit Bathroom Trips

Everyone has to go potty sometimes – but little kids can “milk it” with constant trips to the restroom as an excuse to get out of bed. If your little one has to pee then let them go but if they need to go multiple times you might want to limit liquids before bed!

9. Never Give into a Tantrum

Never give into a toddlers tantrum – if you give in once the child learns they can get their way if they cry long enough. Stay consistent and strong, when Mom and Dad say it is time for bed they mean it!

10. Don't Reason with a Toddler

Bedtime means bedtime – if they ask why explain they have had a big day and need energy for tomorrow – plus so they can grow big and strong. If your toddlers needs more of an explanation “because I said so” can go a long way!

11. Set the Right Tone

Set the right tone and make bedtime fun when kids are young and you can avoid problems down the road. Avoid yelling, arguments and fighting and try not to wake up on the wrong side of the bed after a rough night.

12. Try Some Melatonin

Have a problem sleeper – try some Melatonin. This all natural sleep aid is safe (it is produced in the pineal gland) for kids and will put them to sleep in 15 to 20 minutes.

But here’s the kicker:

Little kids are going to throw temper tantrums no matter what you do. Even the best parents will want to pull their hair out some nights trying to get their kids to go to bed.

Now Here’s the Deal:

These 11 tips can help get your children to bed without a fight, but it is up to you to make it happen! Without enforcing strict rules you are in for a headaches every night, remember bed time does not have to be fun!

Don’t worry, it gets better:

If you enforce strict bed time rules you should have no problem stopping most tantrums before they start!

Tantrum Tips from REAL Moms!

Get a tantrum tip to add to our list? Submit it using this form and get featured on our blog with other expert Moms!

Michelle Haslett at whatmummythinks.co.uk

What Mummy Thinks

Giving them a clear routine that we follow every day. They know what to expect then. Also we find that giving a 10 minute, 5 minute warning also helps to avoid any tantrums!

Karen Langston at parentsandco.co.uk

Parents and Co

Dealing with toddlers sleep issues can feel like a huge challenge as they will have been happening for a long time! Many parents with toddlers either enter the night with a sense of optimism and hope that the problem will just resolve itself, or they think that they will never ever fix the issues and they will never sleep again!!

The good news is its fixable, however sometimes convincing tired parents that things can improve can be hard! Toddler negotiations at 3am may involve many tears because you are changing things! Unfortunately many toddlers will try to resist these changes! It is important that your toddler realises that there are boundaries to their night time wake ups!

If they get upset they need to know you are there and they are ok, but it is time to go to sleep!!! Really important parents give them the same message over and over again, as they are looking at you for guidance. Most importantly you keep remembering why you are doing this and the long term gain to you all!

Faith Collins at joyfultoddlers.com

Joyful Toddlers

If your toddler has a meltdown when you announce that it’s time to get ready for bed, stop announcing it! Try doing the practical aspects of bedtime much earlier, so that they don’t signal the “end of the fun.”

If brushing teeth is a power struggle, move it up to directly after dinner, instead of before climbing into bed. Remember that children like to do what we do—do you brush your teeth when you want you child to brush hers? Let her have a moment of giving your teeth an extra brush before it’s your turn.

If getting pajamas on is a time for meltdowns, try putting them on MUCH earlier—perhaps even before dinner. This way, the act of putting pajamas on is separated from the end of the day.

Finally, many meltdowns happen at the very end of the bedtime routine, as children try to prolong this special time of direct attention. Rather than losing your temper, imagine yourself as a music box, slowly winding down to its inevitable halt.

Nicole Arsiwala at talesfrommamaville.com

I am not one who sticks to a set routine when it comes to parenting. Ever since my child was a baby, I followed what I termed a ‘loose routine’ – so things were done at around the same time everyday, but if my child decided to sleep later one morning or wasn’t hungry at lunchtime, I would let him lead and move things around a bit.

However, as he grew into a toddler and the bedtime battles began, I came to realise the importance of a bedtime routine. It doesn’t ensure a peaceful bedtime every night, but it works a charm most nights. It sets the tone for bedtime as children know what to expect next (and that’s very important for a child – the unexpected frightens them). Bedtime is one area where I would highly recommend a routine (at least the same string of events in the same order, even if it’s not the same time every night!)

Talya at motherhoodtherealdeal.com

It’s about getting the balance right. Stick to a familiar bedtime routine every evening but offer flexibility within that by offering choices. Going to bed is not a choice, but the book they read, or the pajamas they wear can be. This gives them a little bit of power, while enabling you the parent to stay in control of a calm bedtime.

Marie Seska

Marie Seska

Marie Seska is one of the most trusted sources on the net for sleep information. She searches the web - as well as the latest medical journals to bring her readers the latest news and information.

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