How to halt bedtime delay tactics

Filed under: Toddlers Preschoolers, Preschoolers, Development/Milestones: Babies, Bedtime

I think it's easy to underestimate the manipulation tactics of a two-and-a-half year old. After all, most of them can't properly form their words, they are unabashed by wicked knarled tangles on the back of their heads, they would wear pyjama pants and one brown sock in public if you let them.

But for any parent who's witnessed the brilliant finesse of their small child's delay tactics at bedtime, it's easy to understand: these tiny people are much more cunning than they appear.

I've become used to the regular strategy, which starts at about 7:30 PM.

"After I line up dis car!" my son cries, and slowly, agonizingly brings the red fire truck up behind the police car. Then he needs his three stories, and then just one more, one more, I promit, DEN bed. And he's a rotten promise-keeper -- so he wants one more, and who am I to deny him a book? Then he wants his water, then a snack (a firm no to that one, teeth have been brushed) Lately, though, he's been successfully potty training and he has morphed this new development into his own nefarious purposes. Last night, he had to GO TOIWET four times before bed. It was strictly a delay tactic and I knew this, but was reluctant to tell him no -- as he managed to dribble some out each time and I am so grateful for the effort that I don't want to discourage it in any way. Even if I knew I was being manipulated, and the clock crept up to 8:30.

There's an article on CNN that has some great tips to circumvent bedtime delay tactics by children, and though it's a few years old, it provides some gems that I hadn't considered. A few of my favorites:

1. Make a chart. Check off all the boxes: when your child has put on pyjamas, brushed teeth, combed hair, etc. When the tasks are all complete, bedtime is non-negotiable. I like that this establishes routine and encourages participation.

2. Read at other times. This is one I hadn't considered, but one that I'm going to think about. Book reading can be drawn out a very long time at our house, so perhaps it's worthwhile to consider reading at naptime or during the day.

There are a lot more useful hints here.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.