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Bedtime battle with 3yr old Lock Rss

I have a 3 year old daughter who I am finding hard to settle at night, she calls for everything from drinks, to the toilet, to teddies, you name it she wants it to prolong the attention, we have tried ignoring her at which time she goes into hysterics and is really hard to calm down, we have closed her door (she is in a bed so it is a bit hard to keep her contained), any suggestions, ideas, comments would be much appreciated.....she sleeps through the night so it is really only the initial settling that is causing us greif, also we are expecting another bub in April next year so I am anxious to sort this out.....
Sorry I can't really offer any help but we are having exactly the same problem. She turned three on October 5th (and we are expecting number 2 April 10th!)She gave up her dummy about 3 weeks ago and our troubles started then. A girl who was a perfect sleeper, now takes around 2 - 2.5 hours to get to sleep. With very similar tactics to what you have described. Sorry I am not offering help, but at least you know yours is not the only one. I will appreciate any help that is offered to you as well. Good luck
Thanks for that, at least I know I am not alone and that makes me feel better....
OMG & here hubby and i were thinking we were the only ones going throught this at the moment!!
Sorry i have no advice to help but i just need to vent. Our 3yo was the best sleeper i could ever ask for about a month or 2 ago that changed. She was waking anywhere from 1-5times a night so we decide to cut out night time tv to see if that helped , well it has helped in the aspect of she now sleep through the night, but we are now having the trouble of getting her to bed. It can take up to 2 hours to finally settle her down. We have never changed her routine of a night she just all of a sudden doesnt want to sleep & she won't say why.
Its so heartbreaking to hear her in hysterics and it just seems like we are fighting a losing battle as we dont want her to get so worked up but dont want to fall in the habit of sleeping with her in our bed.
Once again sorry i have no advice for you but thanks for letting me vent
Good Luck smile

Nicole, QLD, Tia 20/09/2006 Caitlyn 09/02/2009

I have some advice but you need to be tough to make it work.

Firstly, have a good bed time routine in place. Dinner, Bath, Cup of milk, story, toilet bed or similiar.

Secondly, Make sure she has had everything she might require (toilet, drink, story). Lie her down in her bed, give her a cuddle and tell her that she needs to lie down quietly until she goes to sleep. Leave the room, you can leave the door open or closed if you wish.

If she gets out of bed, go back in and lie her down. remind her gently that she needs to lie quietly until she falls asleep. And then tell her that you are not coming back into the room again (and mean it!). Close the door.

Then ignore, ignore, ignore. I am sure she will try everything but unless she is in any danger don't go to her. Once she has fallen asleep you may need to put her quietly back into her bed.

It could take anywhere up to 2 hours or more the first night but once she learns that you mean what you say and her hysterics aren't getting what she wants then she will stop.

I have done this with my 2.5 DD and she no longer gets out of bed or carries on.

Here is a helpful links to have a look at:

Raising Children Network

[Edited on 27/10/2009]
What about sitting with her until she falls asleep? Going to bed needs to be a pleasant experience.

Ignoring her just because she doesn't want to fall asleep on her own only teaches her that what she is feeling doesn't matter, and we've found it doesn't work anyway. DS1 is 6 and some nights he wants us to sit with him, but most nights he doesn't because we sit with him when he asks us to. We only figured this out when we had similar issues and found that 'honey' worked heaps better than 'vinegar' when it came to sorting it out. DS1 will come to us in the middle of the night if he is scared or doesn't feel well and I'd rather have that than a boy who sits in his bed feeling crook or scared and feeling alone because we've told him that he's not allowed out of bed til morning 'or else'.

I still can't work out this logic that says that little people have to fall asleep on their own, especially when it's usually something that we, as adults, don't like to do. Supporting her doesn't mean that you are giving in or that she has 'power' over you, it means that she learns valuable life skills, including that what she feels matters. I think emotional needs get overlooked, especially when the 'physical' ones are all tended to.


I didn't say to ignore her permanently, over a few days the time she fights will lessen and she will be quiet until she goes to sleep.

Unfortunately, not all of us have the time to sit beside a child until they fall asleep and in some cases (like my own) it isn't about wanting mum or dad there. It is about not wanting to go to bed and the attention that they receive as a result of their behaviour.

You can still be a comfort to your child and meet there emotional needs without being by their side constantly. They need to understand that you are the parent and when you say something you mean it. So if you say it's bedtime that means it is time to lie down quietly until you fall asleep. After the initial "testing you" phase they can do this without any mental harm.
I shared MY experiences with MY child based on what worked for US. You shared what worked for YOU and YOUR kids but that doesn't mean that it will work for everyone else on the planet. If someone wants to do something else then that's up to them.

She asked for advice, I made a suggestion based on what works for US.......and if a few nights of ignoring is all it takes then great but for alot of parents (including us) it takes more than a few nights, sometimes a few weeks or even a few months plus maybe some anger/frustration/tears and if sitting with them for 15 minutes means that they go to bed and stay there, especially if it is only the initial going to bed and not throughout the night, then I can't see why you wouldn't at least try it.

Most nights I can think of a million things that I could be doing in those 15 minutes, though it is usually only for about 5 minutes, but I do it because it's what he needs not because he's 'testing me' and it means that I get 15 minutes to slow down, possibly for the first time that day, and read a bit of a book or a magazine. So for US 15 minutes and he's asleep is a heck of alot more desirable than being in and out with him for HOURS trying to keep him in bed; plus doing it your way in our house would make it a 'battle', where doing it our way means that he lays quietly and drifts off to sleep calmly. Plus if I can't find 15 minutes to sit with him then I, clarifying that the "I" here is ME personally, would be seriously re-evaluating why I had children in the first place. When I/we say it's bedtime they know what it means in OUR house and it doesn't mean the same thing here that it does in your house.

Both boys well understand that I am the parent, they have plenty of boundaries, but they also have plenty of support and understanding and they know that if they need me to be there that I will be whatever the reason, even if I think it is 'unreasonable'; it also doesn't mean that they get their way all the time, in fact we say no to them alot more than we say yes. I don't take a 'dictatorial/one size fits all' approach to my parenting (well not any more), especially with DS1, because it plain doesn't work. If it works for someone else then great. We feel that by parenting the way we do that we are setting them up to have the tools necessary to go out and be productive members of society.

We CHOOSE to do what we do because it feels right for US, we're happy to do it and we'd be silly not to seeing as it gets better results but if it isn't right for someone else then they don't have to do it.


Posted by: C_hippie_kiwi
I shared MY experiences with MY child based on what worked for US. You shared what worked for YOU and YOUR kids but that doesn't mean that it will work for everyone else on the planet. If someone wants to do something else then that's up to them.


Yet you picked apart what I had to say and I am not allowed to defend my stance? Because you disagree with what I had to say, instead of saying "I disagree this is what worked for me" you put me on the defensive. I will parent how I see fit to parent and I will offer advice where I feel I can with MY personal experiences.

As I said previously some people don't have the time to sit with their child and it can be up to an hour or 2 hours not just 15 minutes. I know this because I have tried this with MY child and it FAILED to work.
I used to use controlled crying with my bub when he was in his cot. It seemed to work ok but he never did sleep through the night, but did seemed to fall asleep on his own no worries.

When we put him into his big boy bed at 17 months he was find for the first one - two months but then suddenly this all changed. I do not know what happened as there was no change in routine but suddenly my easily put to sleep child was one who would get out of bed and scream and scream. At first I did not know what to do but I thought I would try the controlled crying thing again. Unfortunately it was now not successful.

DS started getting himself so worked up he would vomit, stamp his feet or throw himself all around on the floor. I was obviously alarmed by this behaviour, scared he would hurt himself and it caused many issues between hubby and me. After discussions we thought we would try some tips from Elizabeth Pantly book No-cry no sleep solution for toddlers.

The getting ready for bed routine has now changed, and before going to sleep myself or hubby lie in bed with DS read three books, turn off the light and lay with him till he falls asleep. Falling asleep has varied from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. Now that may seem a long time but believe me the stress level in our house has decreased ten fold.

SOme time it still takes a little while for him to lay down and be calm but nothing is going to work all the time. Just have to keep trying and do what you feel comfortable with. No one solution is right or wrong but you will find something that will work for you and your family situation. And I am sorry to say that it will probably change again in a couple of months, lol.

Hope this helps




We have since changed his bedtime routing
Hi my DD is 3 also, when I first had this problem she'd cry forever at first I use to go in there and hug her and talk to her but I didn't have the time, eventually I started to let her cry and not go in after 3 days she'd be alseep as soon as her head hit the pillow.

So I pretty much ignored her to, but it's what worked for me.
i have a 3yrd old & he it is reall hard for him to go to sleep at night, it take anywhere between 1 to 2.5hrs to get him to sleep. we have tried the rountin, letting him scream/puuttin him back to bed everytime he gets out of bed, in the end my hubby sleeps next to him. i also have 1yr old that goes to bed with no problems...
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