No one enjoys the bedtime battles. They can be draining, hair raising and downright ugly!
The solution is to expand your perspectives and perceptions of your child’s behaviors.
We are all quick to judge our children, I catch myself doing it too. When I have seen my judgment, I realize how often I am wrong.
It’s in asking questions and being open that I see how I have labeled and projected my beliefs onto my children.
The bedtime battle evokes judgments about our children’s behavior and that creates chaos.
Let me show you how getting curious can help you understand and fix the bedtime battle.
It’s getting late and approaching bedtime for the kids. The whole family, including the pets, are in the living room. My daughter has already put her pj’s on and has brushed her teeth.
I ask my son to go upstairs and get ready for bed. He doesn’t listen and continues to play with his robot on the floor.
I give him a few minutes since it’s the holidays and there is some flexibility with the routine.
But minutes later he ignores my second request and then starts to fuss. He starts thumping around the kitchen and whining. My immediate thought is that he is being difficult and trying to push my limits….. but I resist that judgment and instead pay attention to his behavior.
He continues to fuss and says he doesn’t feel tired, he doesn’t want to go up. Frustration is brewing within me. I want him to go to bed so I can have some quiet time. My thoughts are that I need him to be in his room so I can have some peace.
I notice this agenda and continue to observe him. My frustration grows as I ask him to go brush his teeth – my voice is a little sterner than before, but I remain calm.
He pushes back again and this time I look around the living room and I notice the bigger picture. I have an idea about what is going on but suspend my hunch for the moment.
I tell him that I will come upstairs with him and brush my own teeth so we can do it together. (tip: this is an excellent strategy that most kids will go for!)
When we are upstairs, I share what I noticed about his behavior, the ignoring, pushing back and fussing. He validates my observations.
I ask him why he was doing that. He says he doesn’t know. Children don’t often understand why so more curiosity is needed on my part.
So, thinking back to the situation in the living room, I ask him why it felt so hard for him to get ready for bed. He answers with this:
“Everyone was in the living room, and I don’t like coming upstairs alone, I didn’t want to miss something!
And there is the truth behind the behavior! The fussing was a symptom of the fear of feeling left out!
It wasn’t that he was trying to be difficult or wanted to put up a fuss. He wanted to stay connected to everyone, and he wasn’t able to express that at that time!
I acknowledged his feelings and told him I understand this longing to want to be connected.
I told him that I was there with him now and that we would brush our teeth together. I said that it was time for the kids to go to bed and that he wasn’t going to miss out on anything. I would also be going to bed shortly. I reassured him that we would do something together the next day so he won’t be left out.
With this assurance, he got ready for bed, and that was it.
The next day I made sure I followed up with my promise to do something, and we played a game together.
One of the most important skills a parent can have is to get curious.
Being curious about our perceptions and judgments can change the dynamic. And, getting curious about our children’s behavior and what is going on beneath the actions is key.
Their behavior is a symptom of a need. Watching, attuning and asking questions will get to the root of the issue. Then you will know the appropriate solution or response.
I invite you to get curious about your child’s behavior. Stop and watch them and take them in so you can understand what is going on.
And, be curious about your ideas and judgments about your child’s behavior. You will be surprised by what is really going on!
Doing this will help you understand and fix your child’s bedtime battles.