Toddlerhood is such a time of wonder and delight, blended with an emerging sense of self. As a toddler finds out more of how they fit into the world, they look for independence to discover and grow.
The downside to that wonder and excitement in life, is not wanting it to stop. There are very few toddlers who actively instigate sleep time.
Toddlers love being around ‘the action,’ so the notion of leaving the fun to meet sleep needs, can result in challenges. Remember at all times, toddlers love positive attention about what they are doing, their achievements and their abilities. When a toddler is happy with an achievement, their behaviour says it all.
So firstly, notice the good behaviours in preparation for quiet time and resist the negative statements which are common for adults experiencing frustration and despair. If your toddler takes some time to calm, start preparing for sleep time well in advance of the actual sleep, to prevent overtiredness.
As much as it would be great if overtired toddlers just fell to sleep, they don’t. In fact, many toddlers wind up and up, and it all ends in tears. Toddlers are known for their inability to self calm, especially when tired so they require assistance before sleep time for the essential wind down time. A quiet environment is a great start, away from that action and activity of the world. Wind down is not the time for computer or phone screens, it is the time for a quiet book read, a cuddle and maybe a swaying rhythmical snuggle or a massage. It is helpful to have a rhythm to sleep preparation so your toddler can anticipate and even participate in the preparation. It may be helpful for you to begin, and then involve your toddler in activities, such as packing up the toys into the toy box, to show sleep time is imminent.
Watching your toddler participate in the ‘sleep time’ preparation can be soothing for you, and in turn, be a positive experience for your toddler.
If, despite all your efforts, your toddler becomes overtired, you will need to offer more comfort and support to help them calm for sleep. We live and learn, so next time you might consider starting sleep preparation a little earlier to avoid the challenges that can be associated with overtired toddlers.
Safe Sleep Space www.safesleepspace.com.au