go the f**k to sleep

A Child Sleep Specialist Has A Brilliant Explanation For Why Toddlers Fight Bedtime So Hard

And two simple things parents can do to get their kids the f**k to sleep.

A sleep specialist and parent coach gives the rundown on why kids fight bedtime and provides tips fo...
TikTok / @officialsleepingbeauties

Parents often wonder why their toddler won’t sleep when it’s time for bed. The every-night ritual of bedtime can be so stressful for parents (and kids) because parents just want a break and kids know that it’s the end of a fun day. There is a constant power struggle, and when parents are on the brink of losing it, the whole bedtime saga leads to disaster.

One exasperated and exhausted TikTok mom, Annalee Ford, turned to her followers, asking why getting kids to fall asleep at night is “so hard.”

“Please tell me there are some other moms and dads out there who feel me tonight 😂,” she captioned the video.

Tons of TikTok commenters chimed in with waves of support for the mom, and one sleep specialist and parent coach stitched her video providing some context and insight into why so many parents struggle with bedtime.

Why is bedtime so hard for toddlers?

Certified sleep specialist and parent coach, Cayla, explained the deeper reasoning behind why kids fight bedtime so hard, and spoiler alert, it’s typically not just because they want to give their parents a hard time.

Quite the opposite, in fact!

After Annalee’s video plays asking about the woes of bedtime, Cayla comes into frame and replies, “Because bedtime is a conflict of interest between your needs and your child's needs.”

The mom of three went on to say that when it comes to bedtime parents and kids have very different frames of mind. And that difference can lead to disaster.

“By the time bedtime rolls around, we as parents are like, ‘You need to go the hell to sleep.’ And so, we enter bedtime a little bit stressed, a little bit anxious, maybe a little bit on the edge when we really need to push them to get into bed and just go to sleep so we can have sometimes for ourselves,” she explained.

“Our kids on the other hand, get to bed time and they're like, ‘Wait, I spent all day at school or with a nanny or with a grandparent or a daycare and now I have like two hours before bed to, like, reconnect with my parents, get all that connection that I need in, and then I have to go to bed which is the biggest separation of my day.’”

Why do toddlers fight bedtime?

Cayla explains that while parents are more than happy to end the day, have some space, and put their tired kid to bed, kids know that this time of day means isolation and FOMO (fear of missing out).

“As soon as we go to put them into bed, we're asking them for somewhere between 10 and 12 hours where they are alone in a dark room without any connection to anything whatsoever,” she explained.

“And so at bedtime, we are pushing them away. We're like, ‘Just go to sleep.’ And they are pulling us in and pulling out all the stops and asking for everything under the moon and the stars just to get us to stay with them longer because they're looking for that extra connection.”

What do to when you toddler won’t sleep

Cayla also gave some tips for parents with a toddler who fights sleep and bedtime. Based off her assumptions that the true core of the issue is a lack of connection, she suggests being very intentional about how parents spend those last few hours of the day with their kids.

“Look for opportunities in the hours leading up to bedtime where you can add additional connection with your child,” she recommends.

Secondly, work to be as calm and patient as you can during the bedtime routine. Kids are perceptive and vibe off your energy. If you’re going into the bedtime routine with a rushed and frantic demeanor, your kid will surely pick up on that.

She continues, “Be as patient as you can during the bedtime routine, knowing that the more stressed and anxious and uptight you are, the more they're going to think something's wrong and the more they're going to want to connect to you because they connect through that attachment and needing to be close to you.”

Tips for a toddler fighting bedtime

Along with establishing connection and keeping your cool, there are a few other helpful tips provided by experts to ease the pain of bedtime.

“Normal development in a toddler includes learning independence and saying ‘no,’” says Sally Ibrahim, MD, director of Pediatric Sleep Medicine at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.

“As part of this development, it is not uncommon for toddlers to resist bedtime or want to draw out the process. They may also get out of bed frequently.”

First, develop a simple, short bedtime routine. The routine can be as simple as bath, brush teeth, PJs, book and bed.

“Once you move to the bedroom and start the bedtime routine,” Dr. Ibrahim says, “do not negotiate with your child if they have additional requests. Over time, setting limits will help your child understand bedtime.”

Keep bedtime slow-paced, mellow, and soothing. Try avoiding screens and electronics all together, but if it’s a must for the routine, avoid gaming, or something fast-action that can cause brain stimulations. Consider listening to audiobooks or a bedtime podcast.

When all else fails and your child is still waking up, getting out of bed, or refusing to sleep, discuss the issues with a pediatrician.