Helping your toddler settle down at the end of the day can be like trying to make Jell-O stop jiggling. But a regular bedtime routine that includes a sweet story and your own special traditions can create a sense of calm and comfort that will settle even the wiggliest child. Try these five suggestions for sending your little one off to dreamland:
1. Enter her room with a special greeting meant just for her, such as, "Hello my little bird. Are you ready to snuggle into your nest?"
2. Find a favorite bedtime story. You can read a classic, such as Goodnight Moon, or make up your own tale. If you read more than one book, end with the same story each night to create a sense of routine.
3. Spend a moment debriefing the day. Ask your child about the best part of her day. Find out if there is anything troubling her. If so, include that concern in your bedtime prayers.
4. After tucking her in into bed, pray over her. Use a prayer that begins with the same words (something simple like, "Jesus, thank you for this day,") then allows for specific requests ("Please help us be kind to the new girl next door"). Soon your child will catch on and even begin praying with you.
5. Turn on a CD of mellow praise music as you leave the room, or sing the same song right before you say goodnight. Hearing the same music each night will tell your child that it's time to fall asleep.