"What's happened to my 2 year old?!" We have lots of sleep chats with parents of kids around 2 years of age and you have probably seen parents with posts like this on various social media pages or parent groups you might be part of. Or perhaps you have asked this question yourself as your child has reached this stage.
Common patterns we see are resisting bedtime and creating many sorts of reasons that delay bedtime. For kids that have been placed in a bed by that age (we recommend wait till 3 years old) we see them coming out of bed over and over again. They can start 'screaming like a banshee' as one parent explained it. Refusing to sleep unless a parent sits with them. They can start to wake in the night and again refuse to resettle unless a parent sits with them. Often we also see another sibling is on the way or has arrived which can also cause waves. What a whirlwind!!!
It can be so completely confusing as a parent especially as it can feel like literally an overnight shift in the situation.
There are some major changes going on around this age and there are two key ones we would like to focus on to give you some idea of what's going on.
1. Linguistic development
There is some majorly amazing and beautiful things going on for our little ones at this age. And as you would probably know by now, often there is disruption to 'life' prior and during this development. There is SO much happening neurologically for them as they move through this development and it can really cause challenges with their sleep as their brains are processing, pruning, growing and so on.
2. Cause and Effect
You probably see this in other areas of their life about now, not just sleep. The greater realisation that 'when I do this....this is what happens'. Naturally they begin to experiment to see what happens and how you as the parents respond. It's fascinating to review this in this light as they are literally working out their world and how they fit into it with their own actions. They want to see how you respond and this is a key part of their learning.
So where to with sleep? It's important to recognise the various factors that are the underlying reasons for the changes and focus on supporting our little ones best we can navigate through this space. You may need to review the following:
1. Adjusting day naps
2. Engaging your child in the bedtime process more by using tools like Awareness Charts
3. Ensuring you are the calm anchor here and providing the security of your loving leadership
4. Having clear boundaries and predictable clear responses to behaviour
5. Recognising it will take absolute persistence and team work from anyone involved in bedtime
If you are struggling with your little one and would like more support, don't forget we have a specialised program for Toddlers & Preschoolers. It's a great way to get further clarity on what's happening specifically with your little one, have a customised plan of what to do, receive specialised tools that engage your child in the process and receive 21 days of support as you put the plan into action.