Prepare a special place, just for them
"Sleeping is not a social event" explains Ted in the first sentence of this chapter. I believe this to be right on point, but sometimes misunderstood, especially by toddlers. This time of the day is different than you dropping them off to daycare, where they are going to be surrounded at first by people they don't know (over time as they become accustomed to seeing the same people, this will change). Sleep is going to be a time of rest and hopefully rejuvenation (hopefully you catch that REM sleep), and you do not need somebody by your bedside monitoring you throughout the night. Ted says it best, "The sooner you get your toddler to accept that being alone in their bed, in their room, is normal; the better they will go back to sleep when they wake during the night". This is the biggest thing, its giving the toddler the idea that you will be there with them during the night, and I think it extends from making bed time a big deal. So, ted advocates for making this place of rest their own unique place. One way to do this is to have a favorite stuffed animal or blanket that is housed in their room and really only gets introduced at bed time. This item will hopefully be associated with sleep and their special place.
Have a pre-bedtime schedule
Kids tell time differently than adults. This topic has discussed in our previous posts, like when picking up your child from school/daycare. At night time, its no different, and it will be important to not startle them by time based decisions. The easiest way to avoid the bed time drama is to announce things. Give your child time to realize what exactly is going on. An example of an announcement could be asking them to brush their teeth. This could set the train in motion to your child starting to get the picture that the natural progression will be towards getting into their pajamas and then getting ready for a story.
Follow a clear and fun routine
Think about it like this, if you hate doing something, how enthused will you be to partake in that thing? Ted makes a lot of sense in this point, and it hearkens back to getting your kids ready to leave the house. If you can make it fun and enjoyable, you will have willing participants, but if you are stressed out and militant, it is going to negatively rub off onto the family. You might as well make it fun, and one way that Ted used to do this with his kids is by singing songs. You don't even have to have the pretties voice! Just by performing while getting everything cleaned up and ready for bed will put your kids in a more positive mood.
Participation leads to cooperation
I can't imagine how big of a deal it must feel for a toddler to have their own special "seat at the table" at dinner time. This would be the equivalent of being invited to lunch with the executives at your company. You finally feel like you have a say just by being their at this lunch. You are going to take your job way more seriously. The same logic is in affect with children in the household. If you can get them to become invested, they are going to be more willing to partake in activities. They are going to personally see benefit from their own actions. This does come with a small upfront cost though. That is, anything they do will probably be slow and clunky at first. Be patient with them, and soon they will be pros.
Limit your in-bed routine to 5 minutes
"Try to make your good night time in your toddler's bedroom short and sweet" says Ted. It basically boils down to this, are you giving off the impression that you are going to be there with them all night? Think about the good bye we gave to our toddlers at the drop off, it was short and sweet. While bedtime can be treated slightly differently, always keep the end in mind. That is, to transition your toddler from activity, to rest. Ted gave his kids the choice of a book or a song at bedtime, and after the completion, there was never any arguments on "more". As a side note, please make sure the books or songs are on the shorter side!.