If you are thinking about transitioning your child from their crib into a bed, read my post on how to ease the transition here.  If you have already made the transition and find yourself continuously entertaining your child’s requests like “just one more hug” or “I forgot to tell you just one more thing”, then follow these 6 tips for successfully eliminating your child’s curtain calls.

1. Use a Timer

At the beginning of your bedtime routine, get your child involved and have them set a timer for 15 minutes.  Explain that once the timer goes off, it’s time to say goodnight and go to sleep.  Instead of a timer, you could use a digital clock and show your child that it’s time for light’s out.  Using a timer or a clock shifts the blame to the clock, making it easier for your child to accept it and not try to negotiate with you.

2. Encourage a Lovey

My daughter's lovey, "Piggy"

My daughter’s lovey, “Piggy”

Children often use curtain calls as a stalling tactic because they may be experiencing some separation anxiety.  Introduce a lovey or a transitional object like a stuffed toy or a soft blanket if they don’t already have one.  It will act as an extension of you and it will help them feel safe when you can’t be in the room with them.

3. Anticipate Requests

Before the timer goes off or before it’s time to say goodnight, anticipate what your child may ask for and include it in the bedtime routine.  If they say they need to go to the bathroom, make sure they go before its time to say goodnight. If they usually ask for a drink, put some water beside their bed.   If they often say they are hungry, offer them a healthy snack before they brush their teeth.  Give them plenty of hugs and kisses and make sure you ask them if they would like to tell you anything else before you go.  By anticipating their requests, you will be able to reasonably ignore their curtain calls.

4. Use a Hall Pass

Consider using a hall pass to significantly cut down on the number of curtain calls.  Give your child one pass and explain that they only get once chance at bedtime to come out of their room into the hall to speak to you.  The key is that they can only do it once.

5. React Consistently

It’s important not to let your child run the show at bedtime.  Remember that you are in charge, and if you are inconsistent with your reaction to their bedtime behavior, they will take full advantage.  If you say “this is the last time” make sure it is indeed the last time because they will learn that they can negotiate if you don’t follow through.  Decide how many times you will respond to their curtain calls and make sure you are consistent every night.

6. Sleep rules

If your child is still requesting extra bedtime attention, implement some sleep rules to help them learn what is expected at bedtime.  Praise them when they follow their sleep rules, and follow through on some consequences when they don’t.   The last thing you want is an overtired child who has difficulty falling asleep because they delay bedtime with their curtain calls night after night.

If you need help with your child’s curtain calls, visit www.babyzzz.ca for more information on how we can work together.

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