Some children test your limits when making the transition from crib to big kid bed – I know mine sure did.
We transitioned our girls when they were almost 2, into “big kid” beds. With our first daughter, we chose that soon, so she would not be attached to her crib when her baby sister arrived. We wanted enough time for her to feel settled into her big bed and not like the baby took her bed. It worked very well. She was an absolute champ at switching. She did not get out of bed, she did not come out of her room most nights, without calling for a parent first.
Fast forward two years and we try the transition with #2. Suffice it to say, our first daughter was your typical “good baby”. She ate, she slept, she used a ton of words and was generally compliant with everything. Our darling #2 was a challenge. She was particular from the moment she was born. She liked to be fed at exactly the right time and held the right way, but who knew when and how these things were when she arrived? Not us!
When we transitioned her into the toddler bed, she quickly figured out she could escape. I tried many times taking her back to bed. Singing or talking to her, trying to settle her without climbing into the bed. I tried the gate across her door, to at least keep her in her room, and she smashed it down. After many trials, I needed help!
I read a post at Your Modern Family about keeping your child in bed. The strategies listed from Super Nanny, are exactly what was recommended to me by a behaviour therapist friend of mine. They also strongly remind me of Caesar Milan’s “no touch, no talk, no eye contact”. We had to put her to bed and reinforce that it was bedtime, consistent words and actions by all the grown ups involved.
If our spunky daughter got out of bed, we stood in front of her, without giving eye contact or yelling and simply said “time for bed”. Initially it was difficult to listen to her cry and get upset with us. Each time she came out got easier and easier. We would point to her room and say “time for bed”. She would sit down on the floor and we would stand closer, invading her space, she would back up. She continued to back up to get away from us parents and would end up crawling back into bed.
We got to the point where, she would start butt-scooting backwards before we got close to her. She knew she was to be in bed and that we were not going to give up. The lessons we learned:
- be consistent
- be a team
- don’t give up
It was important to be able to depend on your parenting partner when you were having a hard time dealing with the tears and tantrum. We needed to both be using the same words and body language so our daughter knows, Mom and Dad are in this together. Our behaviour friend also advised, it could get worse before it gets better! (WHAT?) Kids will try anything to get what they want. You might find they escalate the screaming or flailing in order to try and get through your guard. Don’t let them. Stick to it.
As stressed in Your Modern Family, you need to find what works for you. As long as everyone in the household is on the same page, your routine and rules can work. What we did, might not work for you, but hopefully by sharing you can find some variation that leads to a good night’s sleep for everyone.