How often do you hear parents complaining about the terrible two's stage? I'll be the first to admit that I've (on numerous occasions) wanted to pull my hair out of frustration as I sit and argue with my two year old (the 1000000 time) about staying in his seat at the dinner table. Do I even dare mention the fight of going to bed or taking a nap - what use to work might currently isn't. But as much as I want my once sweet child to come back to me (especially during bedtime), I have to remind myself that it's not easy for these little one's to go from the innocense the baby stage has to offer, to a huge developmental leap where all they want is to be independent and free.
My third child turned two in late February and it was almost as if on the day he turned two the tantrums started and the fight to go to sleep began. It didn't help much that we lost his one and only pacifier a week prior and have had to re-train him to self soothe (poor timing, I know). But my once "perfect" sleeper now knew exactly what to say to get me (a sleep consultant) to pull him out of his crib. The smart little guy didn't give up either. Crying and simultaneously shouting out "mommy I love you, come get me" or "mommy where are you?". They know. They always know exactly what your limits are and instantly can test you on these limits at such a young age.
That being said, how do you break these habits in love yet teach them how to sleep on their own - like they were able to do only a week or two prior? I created a 5 tip list that has worked for us and allowed us to get back out amazing sleeper.
1. Consistency. Your actions speak louder than your words ever will. If you are following thru each and every time with the same minimal response, it will connect.
2. Daytime Matters. Playtime with one on one interaction from mom and dad in their room will help create security and love that will fall over into the night. Seeing that mommy and daddy love their space will only allow them to love their space. But give them that extra love and attention in the day (not just before bed) makes a world of a difference at this age.
3. Nap time. This age can really fight naps. Some actually decide enough is enough. I always say to make sure you offer a nap for a month - if nothing else, they will have a quiet period which is necessary on their little bodies. Make sure to create a dark room environment and follow thru with your sleep training technique if needed. Remember, less is more at this age!!
4. Go back to your plan. If you had a sleep training technique that worked back in the day, it's time to bring it back out and use it again. If you find it's too much of you in the plan helping your child to get back to sleep, get out and set a time to come back in. A quick brief check will help tremendously. But you will have to use it again so make sure you stick with it.
5. Affirmation. A key element in this age is building your child up. Praise them for a job well done in sleeping in their beds all night long. Reward them with a sticker or a dance party or a fun date day with mom or dad. Anything that creates the desire to want to do it again!!
Need more help? Don't hesitate to contact us and we can update your sleep plan while keeping in mind the emotional stability in your two year olds. Here is our ebook that gives detailed information on the major developmental leaps and regressions. Don't worry, it is only for a season - it will pass soon enough.