How to Deal With Bedtime Tantrums

By in Parenting on 11 January 2010

Parents often regard their toddlers as blessings. These 1-4 year old kids are like angels sent from above, most parents would exclaim. But there are times when they don’t act like it. Toddlers throwing their tantrums at different times of the day are such a pain. In a study conducted in United States, an average of 79% of children ages ranging from one to four years exhibit these tantrums. If you are one of the parents of these children, you might want to read along to learn how to deal with them.

First, know why they throw tantrums. Basically, throwing tantrums is how young children deal with difficult feelings, especially frustration. These are triggered by stress, hunger, tiredness, annoyance and situations that children just can’t cope with – like not being able to accomplish a task. Adults have them too but not as bad as these children have. This is a normal part of development for children as they learn to communicate and express their sentiments.

These toddlers are so unpredictable. Their tantrums can occur 5-7 times a week and can last 1-5 minutes. Of course, there are worse cases but these are the average. Perhaps the worst time these children can throw their tantrums is during bedtime. Just when parents are about to sleep and not worry about the day that came and the one that’s going to come, the toddlers decided to throw a fit and catch attention. Then bedtime has turned into a nightmare. The most common and effective way to address this bedtime problem is having a bedtime routine. These routines are a set of pre-bedtime activities that should be fun especially for your child. The activities should be consistent every night because this is how your child will know what to expect each and every night.

Here’s a sample bedtime routine you can pattern from:1145735_reading_books_at_home

Do not shock them about bedtime. 15 minutes before bedtime, tell your child that you’ll read a story or give a bath in around that time.

When that time comes, lead your child to the bedroom for the story or the bathroom for the bath. Insist calmly because your child will try to make up reasons to stay up. Never give in, or they will know they can get you the next time. You should give out the message that you are the authority.

Give a warm, soothing bath. This bath will calm your child. Adding aroma oils will also help. But adding toys to the bath area won’t.

Make them brush their teeth. Inserting this in the routine will help in the long run. Your child will carry on this habit as they grow up.

Put them in pajamas. To make it fun, let them chose their own pajamas to wear.

Tell your child a bedtime story. To make it fun, try including family members or people you both met during the day. This will develop the creativity in your child.

Before saying goodnight, you can chat with your child to make them feel more secure. This includes singing a lullaby or saying prayers or simple talking about the day they had.

If you have already exhausted above suggestion and nothing seem to work for your child, then try…

Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child
Where to buy:

Dr Robert MacKenzie is an educational psychologist and family therapist. His book, Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child explores ways to motivate your child to listen and behave appropriately without conflict. The book takes into consideration the unique temperaments of each child.

Dr MacKenzie believes that good relationships with children are based on mutual respect and cooperation. In his book he teaches parents how to understand their strong-willed child, how to be clear and firm with your words without giving in, how to hold your ground without being threatening, how to stop power struggles between you and your child and how to empathize and understand without giving in.

You will benefit from techniques and procedures to gain a better understanding of the child/parent relationship without the use of punishment. If you are yearning for a more peaceful and positive relationship amongst all of your family members, Dr MacKenzie’s book will give you the understanding and advice you need to achieve this.

For more information, go to

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Al S. says:

    15m warning before check
    Bath check
    Routine check
    Choose PJs check
    Choose books check
    3 1/2 year old defiance/tantrum – check, check, check (most nights)

    We eventually have to lock him in his room for 30m to 1h after one warning of not cooperating so we can prepare for work the next day and get some peace. We very much suspect our son is gifted but his bedtime routines are out of control for 2/3 the nights. The other 1/3 its still work to get him in bed. Finally after 30m-1h he gives in and says “cover me up” and we do and goes to sleep.

    We don’t spank him, we try and talk to him, he just doesnt want to go to sleep. We read 5-6 books on child behavior countless articles and they offer no “well what do we do when it doesnt work” solutions.

    If he actually does mostly cooperate the 20m story time is full of tricks, negotiations, tantrum threats, and “I gotta pee”, “wheres my (insert teddy bear)”, “I dont like this shirt”, “Im hungry”, “I want mommey/daddy (after 1 of 2 books are read)”

    We talk baby talk with him to work out his feelings. We are understanding he doesn’t want to go to bed, but nothing works short of physical intervention of the door.

    He is not ADHD either.

    This is all we know how to get him in bed untill someone comes up with a better suggestion. So if you got one please email me.

  2. sydniesmom says:

    Your description of your son’s routine at bedtime is spot on to what we work with each night for our almost 3 year old daughter (2 years 9 months). She is a precocious, inquisitive little girl & we have no issues at naptime. She has been a “Babywise” baby since infancy & has routine slept 7 PM-7 AM since she was 7 weeks old. I’ve tried extending bedtime until 8. Until 8:30. Reducing afternoon nap to 45min-1 hour only. She goes to a little church weekday school 3 mornings a week & gets plenty of physical activity & social interaction. We read books – set limits, do bath, teeth brusing, etc. Still, 3-6 times a night after we initially put her to bed, she comes out asking for things (stalling). We try not to make much eye contact or talk when we go back to put her in her room. But still it takes an extra 60-90 minutes & 3-6 tries to get her to finally “go to sleep.” Are we expecting too much sleep from her? Should her bedtime be closer to 8:30 or 9? I hate to do that, because then my husband & I will get no alone time. If we get up earlier each AM & start her day closer to 6 or 6:30, she is generally cranky & “spent” by the time she gets home from school at 12:30 & getting in trouble – so I think it’s too early to get up in the AM. Please let me know what you learned/found out/tried to get through this time.


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