Hey everybody, welcome to another edition of slumber party. I invite you to my slumber party, except unlike the ones you attended in the 90s. This one actually includes sleep for you, your children, and the entire family. , every week I have any unique guests or I answer a fun question about sleep to get you in your family, this sleep that you need. So today we’re talking with Kirsten who has a tricky toddler question. She messaged me on Instagram asking me how to keep a toddler staying put. So we do dive deep, I think you’re really gonna enjoy this episode. , we do a deep dive. We talk about literally everything about toddlers, preschoolers. This can apply for our older kids. You’re going to love this. This is one to save. If you have two kids and a baby right now, it’s gonna save your sanity at bedtime. Thank you so much to Kirsten for asking this question. And once again, find me on Instagram @babysbestsleep. And I ask these questions all the time so you could have an opportunity to ask me a question and have a free consultation on my podcast. Thanks again. Have a great day. This is a judgment free zone. All types of sleep are encouraged. So put on your headphones, walk around for the duration of a crap nap, and just enjoy yourself.
Hi Kristen, are you there?
Hi, I’m here, Amanda!
Hi. Thank you so much for asking your question.
Oh, I’m happy to ask it.
Well, I mean, without these questions, I don’t have the like listener part of the podcast. So really it really takes two to tango. So I am very thankful that people do this. So remind us or refreshes of your question.
Okay. Well, I have a now three year old and two months, and right around three we transitioned into his big boy bed and it was magic. It just seemed to work. He would go to bed. He seemed to like it. He thrived on having responsibility and that was great. But then about two months after being in his big boy bed, he started to flirt with the idea of getting out of his big boy bed, and then has now been coming up with really fun excuses for us to come up and join him. So things like “I need to go poo” is a really common one and he does it like three times in 20 minutes. So we’re like, sometimes he actually…
Does he actually go poo?
This is the best thing. Sometimes he saves it up and is able to like go three times in a row. So we started trying to tell him like, okay, this is like the last time we’re going to go poo tonight. And like trying to do things like that and kind of pre-empt that. But he still kind of tries to run out of his room and it, the, the hard part is when he is running out of his room as we’re leaving and he like grabs onto your leg and is like, “don’t leave me” like it’s, it pulls at your heartstrings and theres nothing you can do about it.
The goal is basically trying to get him to stay and fall asleep because he does take a little bit of time to fall asleep.
Totally. And, and there are 100%, like there’s like 70 moms right now just nodding their head in solidarity. Like yes, yes, yes. And actually the poo thing is super common, if that makes you feel better. I have a lot of, I have a lot of a toddler clients that kind of don’t want to poo at daycare or at school and then they come home and just let it all happen.Okay so..
What’s funny is he does go at school, but that’s an entirely different issue is how he manages to do it.
Okay. So your guy is just turned three, tell me a little bit about, you know, if he’s not being when he’s napping.
Speaker 2: (04:08)
Yeah, so he does take one-ish nap a day and I’d say he takes it about 60% of the time, and
Speaker 1: (04:18)
Okay. So there’s an option for him to not nap at daycare?
Speaker 2: (04:21)
Yes. Some days they’ll make him have quiet time, and the teachers get that he does take a little bit of time to fall asleep, so they do give him time. So he’ll have time where he gets to go to lie down in a cot and just rest his body if he’s not going to sleep. But usually he’ll sleep, if he does sleep, for about an hour to an hour and a half during the day. And that’s from about noonish sometime between noon and two.
And what time is bedtime usually on those?
Usually we aim to have him in bed at about eight.
Okay, perfect. Okay. So, again, I kind of warned Kristen that I’d be answering questions in a very roundabout way. If you ever have a consultation or call with me, this is not usually how they go. But, you know, there are a lot of people listening who are in the exact same situation as you right now, and I think it’s important to know a few things. So, number one, I think that baby sleep and toddler/preschool sleep are very, they’re not totally different, but they can be different in that you can have an amazing baby sleeper who has just like kicked ass at sleep their whole infancy. And then as soon as they are able to walk, talk, move, get out of their bed, it really is a different ball game. You’re dealing with a whole new set of behaviors, and this can often make parents feel like failures. Like I count myself among these parents who feel like failures because I had an amazing sleeper. I had just finished my training to become a sleep consultant and I had a three year old who is coming into my room three or four times a night. And I was like, what am I doing wrong? So the good thing is a lot of this stuff is really solvable and I really thought it wasn’t, and I think a lot of people feel that way. Sorry, go ahead.
I was just going to say, yeah, it’s feeling hard.
Yeah. I think, you know, a lot of people actually resist getting help, at this time because they think that the behaviour is so set and their child is so big that there’s no way that they could do anything. I also get a lot of clients who, whose children. It sounds like your guy’s falling asleep pretty independently, right Kirsten? Like when he does, it’s just nobody’s laying with him or anything like that.
No, absolutely not. He asks a lot please for us to stay with them. Just lie down with him for five minutes or three minutes or whatever. But that’s not something that we try to indulge because we feel it’s a bit of a slippery slope to sleeping together, staying with him for six hours or whatever it is.
Totally. And it can be. So, yeah, that’s a lot of parents get into trouble at this time. Again, I say this because my definition of a bad habit is anything you don’t want to continue doing. So if you’re lying down with your child, you’re listening to this and you’re lying down with your child and you like doing that, then that’s fine. Like, if you did just ignore everything I’m about to say. But for a lot of, a lot of kids, if you’re lying down with them in the initial stages of sleep, they are going to get up to find you in the middle of the night because you are a part of their sleep association or a part of their sleep, a routine like the things that they need in order to sleep so that they get up in the middle of the night and they’re really conscious of you being there, they’re going to go and find you. So you know, again, for some parents who are listening to this who are like, how do I keep my kid in my bed? If you are lying with your child, that could be the reason why they’re hopping out. So getting you out of the room, again, if you don’t want to be there, is probably gonna help with the night wakings for you.
But it sounds to me like when your guy is in bed, does he stay in bed once he’s fallen asleep?
He’s good until morning until usually he calls to my husband and asks if it’s wake-up time around 6:30 or so, which is when we’re starting to do kind of our morning things. So he’s fine once he falls asleep, it’s just like, well with now sometimes taking as long as an hour and a half, convincing him to stay long enough that he can fall asleep.
So, I’m just checking in on something here. So when he gets up, is there some sort of like visual stimuli that let him let him know that his morning, do you have a clock?
So we have a gro clock, which we started using at the beginning of his like, you stay in bed when it’s the star and then you can get up when it’s a sun. But we went away on holiday…
So do you keep the light of the gro-clock on? Yeah.
Speaker 2: (09:18)
But we had been putting it next to the bed and then, it’s kind of fallen off a little bit so it’s there and sometimes it’s on, so it’s an inconsistency,
Okay, so you did cut out a little bit. I’m just going to reiterate that for, for anyone listening. It sounds like you were using it, it was successful. you went away on vacation, you came back. It’s been less consistent in using it.
Okay, perfect. So, I’m going to suggest a couple of things then. So number one, for anyone using a grow clock, you need to make sure that the light where the stars are on is completely and totally off, which actually may, reverse the success of the clock, right? Cause you’re like, no, you need when, when the clock is blue you stay. But actually a blue light has been shown to reduce melatonin production. So part of your bedtime battles may be the blue light in his room. , I know it feels like so stupid, but it actually, I remember we bought a gro-clock for my daughter and her sleep got worse using it. So we turned it off overnight and then literally two years later, all this research came out about anything in your room with blue or white light will keep you up and disrupt your sleep.
Perfect. I think we could probably at this point make it disappear from his room, and he might not notice.
Well, and what I was actually gonna suggest is I don’t think it’s a bad thing to keep something like that because I’m gonna talk to you a little bit about rewards and consequences in a second. But I wanted to, we talked about laying together and part of also what I’m hearing is, it’s just a lot of bedtime battles is taking an hour and a half for your guy to get to sleep. Lots of callbacks, lots of negotiation. That’s about right.
Okay. So when we get into this stage of sleep, the toddler/preschooler phase, we’re dealing with a little person who is now understanding that they can manipulate and negotiate a situation, which is totally awesome because this is a great skill that they need. They understand that their words and actions have power. They start to understand that, ‘Hey, if I do this, this happens’, right? Like sort of some, I do this, what am I… Cause and effect. Relationships are starting to develop and manipulation often gets in a negative connotation, but it’s actually what is happening. How can I change the scenario based on a set of behaviors that I do? And it’s the first time where sometimes, guys it works, right? Like when I was a baby and I cried, you were just like, ‘okay, I love you, but you’re not getting a thing’ and we can all move on. But when the child says, “mama, I don’t want to, and I love you”, and you’re like, “ohmygod okay fine.” It’s totally different. Right? So then they’re excited by this, ‘Hey, I tried out this new behavior, and then this happened, or mom and dad stayed a little bit later’ and they’re indirectly rewarded. Right? Because all of us are loving, attentive parents. We do not want our kids to ever feel like we don’t love them, or if they want a little extra time with them, we can’t give it to them. Right? Like, I, I feel that way all the time. You know, at the end of the night, my girls will be like, “can I have another hug?” I’m like, “okay, fine”. You know, I don’t want you talking about this in therapy 20 years. So all of these are super duper valid. Right. And I’m sure he’s pulling out your heartstrings.
Oh, for sure, and I think that may have been like something is absolutely a hundred percent a big part of it. Definitely he wants to spend more time with us. So one of the things that we tried to do when he says he has to go poo, cause it also is tied into right around when he was just finishing his toilet training and getting really good at it, is that he, knew that if he said I have to go poo, then we would probably respect that because we wanted him to poo so badly in the toilet. Really something, but then I think it’s also tied exactly what you’re saying that like time together that he wants to spend and craves time with us. So as hard, like as cold as this sounds, we did start saying like, “okay, you can only go to the bathroom twice” and the second time you’re going like, we’re going to give you privacy, so we’ll sit you down on the toilet and then we go into the hallway. So we can still keep an eye on ’em through the crack of the door. But he’s on his own, so he doesn’t have that benefit trying to show that like, you can keep calling us back, but you’re not gonna get the time with us that you want.
Well, and I think this, you’ve said something that struck me as interesting is that like w what you just said did not sound cold at all. Like, and this is the thing we have as modern parents is we feel a lot of guilt for setting boundaries. So a lot of the work that you’re going to do, and a lot of work that my clients do with their children is setting boundaries. So setting boundaries is not a bad thing. Setting boundaries makes our children actually feel really secure and that there’s an adult in the room, right? So I ask my clients to always remember, remember a time at any point in your childhood or even in your adolescence where you pestered your parents for something, right? You really wanted this thing and you pestered and you pestered and you pestered and finally they said, yes, it didn’t feel good. Right? You didn’t feel like, it kind of felt unstable. Like, “Oh, if I’m able to do this, like what else is not stable?” Right? , and, and maybe not in that super conscious way, but we know that children do not feel safe, secure with boundaries that are constantly moving, right? If the line is always changing, that actually is anxiety inducing. So it’s not cold. It actually is really, it’s really fulfilling, right? Like structure, routine. Parents who feel like they’re the leaders, I hate saying in charge, but leader is a great word, because for a while our little guys, they need a bit of leading. They need a little bit of coaching, to be like, okay, great. You have these new skills. You have this new manipulation tool. Here’s how you use it for good. And I’m going to coach you on how to do that. So you know, going back to basics, what I would start off with right away, we talked about, that clock, I actually think a clock is a really great way to reinforce your boundary. So, if you are saying,you know, you can’t come in and your bed until 6:30am, he can’t come out of his bed until 6:30am, and there needs to be a cue for him that at 6:30am. So he’s not saying “mommy, daddy,” because that’s, that’s overstepping a boundary. So that would be really helpful. I always suggest the Hatch Baby Rests because it is completely programmable from your phone. And if your guy needs a nightly, you can have sleep safe nightlights like red, orange, yellow. It’s completely customisable overnight. So if you want something like that, he can have it. And then the other cool thing is that because it’s so controllable from your phone, let’s say there’s a morning where you really want to reward him.
Speaker 1: (16:48)
We’re going to talk about this in a second. There’s a morning where you want to reward him, but he’s like stirring around 6:20am. You can just turn on the clock from your phone and give him the reward for staying in his room and being quiet. And then because he got that reward, he’s more likely to repeat that behaviour going forward. So okay, when you set your boundaries, part of your boundaries is sending a really tight bedtime routine. Okay. And part of that routine is going to be, laying that out for him in a way that he understands. So things that I do with my kids as I made visual boards for a little while, I cut magazine pictures out or I print pictures from the internet of what everything looks like. So in our, in our house we have like pictures of the girls sleeping during sleep time. And then we have the pictures of the girls brushing their teeth, you know, all parts of the routine. And then beside it, we like had a little checkbox that we’re doing it. You could use stickers, and these are things that, you know, it’s not you making the rules. We’ve made the routine. You can help get him to help you make the routine. We’ve made the routine, refer to the routine, reward him for doing every part of the routine. And the last part of the routine is going to bed quietly. And you can tell him, he understands, it’s really important that you go to sleep so you’re healthy and strong. And if you don’t go to sleep right away, you’re gonna, you might get sick, you might not grow as tall, you know, silly things. I don’t know, but you want to keep it healthy and strong, that sort of….
We could say, you know, he wont be well rested for school and he won’t be able to play with his friends.
That’s exactly it. Like the things that I talk about is like you might not enjoy your books as much. You might not be able to run as fast, like things like that and they get it. So you can talk to him about that. And then so you, you’ve set that boundary, he clearly understands what it is, and then putting the sticker on that is really fun. Do you think that he would respond to those sorts of things?
He loves stickers so I think that could definitely be something.
I know three year olds love nothing more than stickers and bubbles. Like you can just live your best life with stickers and bubbles. So you’re going to set that boundary. The other thing is that you need to have some boundaries around pooping. Okay? So it might be that you teach him how to go to the bathroom by himself, which is okay if you’re like, you know, “by yourself” in quotation marks, meaning that maybe you guys are upstairs kind of hiding out and that he tries it out on his own. You have a little stool. Does he know how to go up and pull his own pants down.
and he can pull them back up
Okay, perfect. So you, you can do that, right? And, and teach him, okay. If you have to go poo, you get a potty pass and you can again make this potty pass with him, put stickers on it, make it really colourful, laminate it if you can or not, or just make it a really special thing. And so he has to give you.
Something cleanable sounds like a good idea!
Exactly. You got it. So if he needs to go to the bathroom, he gives you the potty pass, you get out of the picture. So we’re not rewarding him with attention. He gets one or two. I would say one is probably appropriate. He sounds like he’s pushing the boundaries around poo. Right. So keep it to one. Put them in a pull up. If you pose in this, pull up, you change him and you move on. Right? Like he, I highly doubt he’s going to do that. , but if he does, okay, you had your one potty pass you need to get.. Otherwise children start to again manipulate that situation. “Oh, I have to go and then they’re sitting on the toilet for 20 minutes”. You might want to have a time limit in the toilet. Well, some children like to push boundaries in the toilet. So maybe a five minute limit and then, okay. It sounds like your body’s not ready. You have to go back to bed. And remember when we’re talking to our children, we’re keeping it really light. We’re keeping emotion out of it. We’re not yelling or screaming cause I say this because I need that reminder. I get really frustrated when my kids don’t go to bed, especially if I have a million things to do. The house is dirty, all that stuff. So you’ve got to kind of be like robot mom or dad and be like, “okay, go back to bed, goodnight, see you in the morning”. So the other part of this will be establishing some boundaries around what happens if your guy comes out of his room. Right? So there has to be a consequence and this is where, you know, when I’m doing my work with clients, it really is a personalized consequence. You know, what a good consequence would be for, for your child. Sometimes it might mean like shutting the door for a minute. Sometimes it might mean saying, “Okay, I am going to turn off this light for a minute”. Right? Like it has to be like shutting the door. I really like natural consequences, things that makes sense. If your child is, you know, coming out, it’s not safe for them to be out and about in the house and you need to tell them, look, it’s not safe. So whatever the consequence is for you and your family, you have to implement it and you have to be really, annoyingly precise and consistent. And I say annoyingly because it can be so silly. Like what if your guy comes and puts his toe outside of the door? Well that is a break of the boundary and it’s silly, but we have to, because this was how smart they are.
Thats what he’s doing, you have hit on something I would like to know, but like that’s what he’ll do is he’ll come right in the doorway or put a toe out or put his nose out. And it’s so annoying. Like he’s like, and this is why I know it’s manipulative, like he’s doing it to get a reaction. So my husband and I, like, we have to remind each other to be calm and just walk them back and put him back in bed. But it’s so hard. But you’re right. We do have to be more consistent and that’ll help.
Exactly. And if he does that, to have a consequence that he knows beforehand, talk to him about what the consequence is. And you can even explain to him if you put your nose or your toe outside, that does count that your body outside and let.. everything other than lying in your bed quietly. You don’t have to sleep. You have to lie in your bed quietly. Anything other than that, we have to have a consequence. You can give him one warning, that’s it. Then everything else, you’ve come up with a consequence with him, with your, with your partner, and then you do have to act on it. And generally it just takes maybe one or two instances of implementing that consequence and they get it. But you can’t have just consequences. You have to be able to reward your child when they’re doing the right thing as well. So in the morning, rewarding him for the right behaviour, really focusing on the positives during the day. And finally, you know, you alluded to this at the beginning, but giving your child that one on one time. 15 minutes at the end of the day, no screens, no phones, just playing blocks or doing cars is so powerful in this, because part of it is everyone’s been away from each other during the day. Right? And our kids don’t need a lot. Like we watch Pinterest or Instagram and you know, we don’t need to be like schlepping your kids around or have them on our body all day in order for children to feel a connection. They need 15 minutes with you. So if we can set aside 15 minutes with mom and dad, no screens, no distractions, and it’s hard at first, you’re probably gonna notice a big change.
I hope so!
The other thing, and this is like very elementary, you can kind of suss this out, try to see if you have more success in bed on days where he naps versus not naps. So have a think about that. Is the nap affecting bedtime shenanigans cause he may not be tired, which is legitimate.
Yeah, that’s true. I haven’t looked at that pattern yet, but that would be a good thing to do. I do know that like Wednesday we had our first swimming lesson, which had huge success. That was great, but he was so tired at the end and that made bedtime a nightmare I think because he was over tired. So, that would make me wonder if perhaps he’s not napping, if those are big battle days.
Yeah. And I, the other thing too is on those days where he doesn’t nap, you may want to put him to bed a little bit early or on those days where he has swim. It’s okay. He’ll make up, it’s like he needs a little more extra sleep, so he’s likely not to get up super early, maybe a smidge early. But it’s best to avoid that, you know, late evening tantrum.
Speaker 2: (25:50)
This is so good!
So was that helpful?
Yeah. It has! Things that we were doing that we’ve been, you know, the closing the door consequence is one that we’ve implemented, although I think we could be a little bit harder a line on it, which would probably give us a better result, and it just doesn’t feel comfortable, right? Because he’s inside me screen, let me out, not let me, cause he can’t quite open the door himself, right? And it just feels uncomfortable to kind of have him trapped in a weird way. But I..
Totally remember that when he starts to do the right thing, open the door. Okay. So like don’t close it all night. I’m not for that. But if you have to say, look, I have to close your door for a minute, let him know what that might feel like. Okay. Open. Are you ready to cooperate? Okay. If you’re to cooperate, you’re going to let him back or open the door. The idea is that the consequence is not forever. We’re always going to give back the thing or open the door. It’s just something that you have to figure out and implement when you need it.
This has been really helpful. Oh, toddlers. So fun
Amazing. They are, they are very interesting. I agree. I want you to like, our kids are actually the same age. We kind of half know each other from this mom group that we’re a part of. So Nora just turned three and we dealt with all the same things as well, but where she’s in a bed, she’s sleeping.
The dream is there.
It’s totally possible.
I remember our kids were the same age and talking to you was so helpful then to make him a good sleeper until this big boy bed thing happened, and I thought we’d had it. Like, as I said, like the first few months were bliss. It was great. He loved it and then all of a sudden he discovered his power and it’s been a struggle since. “Look what I can do!”
Speaker 1: (27:54)
He’s like “Watch this, watch this!” All right, well that’s it.
It’s been great!
I’m so glad. I’m so glad. Keep me posted. Send me an email.
I absolutely will. All right, take care. Bye.
Hey guys, thanks for listening to another edition of slumber party. , as always, you guys can find me at www.babysbestsleep.com, for all of my tips and tricks and good stuff. You can head to www.babysbestsleep.com/blog for written out versions of the things that we talk about on this podcast. I also always post the transcript of everything that I write on my website. That’s www.babysbestsleep.com/slumberparty for all of that, and as always, you can find yet Instagram @babysbestsleep. If any of this stuff sounds like, “Ugh, God, Amanda, I need you right now”. You can always book a free 15 minute discovery call. If you are looking to work with me and you are looking to work with a consultant, you can do that. You can book your free call at www.babysbestsleep.com/15mins. That’s 15 minutes and you can speak with me and there’s never an obligation and I’m not a pushy person. I’ll tell you what’s going on and you can go about your Merry way. Thanks so much for listening, guys. Have a great day. [inaudible].