When you hear the word bedtime do you automatically think about the battle about to ensue? If yes, then you’re in the right place. Today we want to take you through 3 key steps to ditching bedtime battles.
1. Shifting OUR Perspective
Let’s start with how we as parents feel about bedtime.
Do you dread it? Do you feel anxious about it?
Or do you cherish it? Do you see it as time to reconnect with your children at the end of the day? Do you look forward to bedtime as a part of the day to have some wonderful moments with your children?
Or maybe you have never really taken the time to tune into your own feelings surrounding bedtime with your children at all? Maybe your subconscious feelings have been coming into play more than you really realized? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
How we as parents feel about bedtime really, truly matters. If we feel anxious and stressed about it our infants and children WILL pick up on that. We can say from experience that even if you fake or smile your way through it, our little ones can't be fooled and they will mirror back our emotions about it and this is where the trouble begins. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If we take the time to self-reflect and adjust our own perspective and feelings surrounding it, bedtime can become a wonderful part of your day as a parent. ⠀⠀⠀
It comes down to seeing bedtime as one of the most special times of the day with our children, rather than seeing it as a chore or expecting it to be a hassle. What if we started to protect that time and see it as the one non-negotiable chance every single that we have to focus on just being present with our children, regardless of how the rest of the day might have unfolded for you?
Maybe bedtime could be seen as a time to create beautiful memories to cherish as it provides a chance for your toddler to tell you their own comical recollection of something that happened that day. Perhaps we could approach bedtime with gratitude as it is the time of day your little one smothers you in hugs and kisses. We all know time passes far too quickly and it won’t be long before we are wishing to have those moments with our babies again.
So maybe instead of fearing bedtime and the battle it could hold, we need to make it shift our perspective to see it as a sacred time of day that we can consciously pour into our children and strengthen our attachment with them.
2. Understanding the Underlying Emotion
When it comes to bedtime battles, we so often see our children as being challenging, or seeing them as misbehaving or being "bad".⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Rather than holding onto this notion, we need to take a moment to understand the emotion that is fueling the behaviour and see our children differently, for who they really are. . ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There is always more to the story than what the behaviour itself is showing us. Even when we know their sleep environment is conducive to sleep for them and we know their tummies are full and their bottoms are dry, there still might be a need for us to meet.
Are they upset because they just started daycare and they want more time with us at home before bed now?
Are they struggling to handle the separation from us through the night therefore finding any excuse under the sun to come out of their room once more?⠀⠀⠀
Are they crying out for you again because they are in search of connection and proximity? ⠀⠀⠀
Are they being aggressive because they are in need of support working through an emotion they don't quite understand?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So rather than simply suiting up for battle, bedtime can get back to being a time we enjoy and cherish if we take the time to uncover the emotion behind the behaviour. Oftentimes, taking the battle out of bedtime comes down to simply seeing our children for the immature beings they are, and meeting their needs of connection and attachment. If we can adjust our expectations of our children and shift the focus on independence to instead encouraging and welcoming dependence, we can fill up our children’s attachment cups.
3. Reduce the Separation by Bridging to the Next Connection
Maybe you’re thinking, that sounds lovely but is it really all that easy? Believe us
when we say that it is amazing what can happen when we take the focus off of the separation, and put it onto the next connection. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Separation is the most wounding experience and nighttime brings the biggest separation that many children face. So what can we do to help them? By taking the focus off the separation and placing it on the next connection we can make it easier for our children to hold on through the separation. Rather than rushing to tuck our little ones in and leaving them with a simple “good night” (leaving the focus on the night time separation) we can give them something to look forward to in the morning. Maybe that means chatting about what you planned to do together the next day or even just what it is you plan to eat at breakfast together. Bridging the gap from one connection to the next might look like filling your child’s rooms with pictures of you, offering them a shirt that smells like you that they can sleep with, or making up a silly handshake just the two of you know and do at bedtime, or even letting them know they can listen for your footsteps in the kitchen after you say good night so they know you are still nearby and that they are never really alone.
There are many things we can do to bridge the gap between points of connection but intentional time together at bedtime is one we have seen to be the most successful.
When we force our children into separation they will only push harder to be with us, but when we allow them to depend on us and when we give them something to hold onto until they are with us again they can begin to hold on when apart, they can rest. One of the ways we can do this is by slowing it down at bedtime and focusing on connection. When we fill up their attachment cup so that when we kiss them goodnight, it is overflowing, they can rest in their relationship with us and there will be no reason to put up a fight in the form of a bedtime battle.
Bedtime doesn’t need to be hard, or frustrating or exhausting, it can be a time of fun, joy and when some of your most cherished memories are created. When we give our children more connection than they are asking for they can begin to rest in our care, rest enough to surrender to sleep from a place of love, trust and connection.
So tonight, join us in taking a deep breath to reset from the busy day, turning off all distractions and pouring so much love into your child during bedtime that there is nothing left for them to fight for.