With toddlers (children between 1.5 and 4 years), the key is to have plenty of resources so that we don't lose our PATIENCE. At this age, they test limits, see how far they can go.
Even though they might already know how to sleep by themselves, kids at this age can start showing problems at bedtime because they go through a lot of changes (dropping the nap, moving to a big kid bed, potty training, etc.) If you want to find more tools to tackle any of these situations, click here.
We already know the importance of a bedtime routine, it has to be soothing, consistent, and fun or enjoyable for them; this helps them prepare for this time and be more open to what is next. It's a time to tell their little active bodies it is time to get some rest.
Having a visual bedtime routine helps them (and you) achieve a peaceful bedtime preparation without a meltdown or "fights". Here are some options that can help you:
Print the bedtime routine main page, laminate it, and put little velcro pieces on each square.
Print the bedtime routine cards, laminate the ones you are doing as part of your bedtime routine, put a velcro square on the back of each card. (You can use the white ones so that your little one can color).
Paste the laminated bedtime routine main page somewhere in your kid's room.
Explain to your child that you will be using those cards and that he gets to paste each step or activity you both are completing.
Every time he completes an activity, praise him and tell him how good he is doing, this is more than enough, but you can also offer a treat if he does a good job by the end of the week.
If you are using a sleep manners chart, you can also add "Cooperate during bedtime routine" to his chart, this way, if he does cooperate or does the activity without whining, you can give the daily sticker.
Print the weekly bedtime routine sheet (you might need 2)
Print the bedtime routine cards. (You can use the white ones so that your little one can color).
Cut and paste each picture on the routine sheet. You can involve your kid in this activity, while you are doing it, explain every step of their routine.
Each night, when he completes one activity, place a sticker. (Or you can paste all of them at the end of the routine, before bed).
Remember the importance of praising every activity and telling him how good he is doing.
You can increase the challenge or responsibility according to their age, for example, putting their pajamas by themselves.
A small treat at the end of the week or when he gets a certain number of stickers is optional. For example, if you get seven stickers in each activity you can choose a toy, or a movie night, or whatever motivates your toddler.
Once you start, keep going, be consistent but also flexible when something is not working. For example, I had to change my daughter's bedtime routine (I swapped dinner and bathtime) because bathtime was too exciting for her!
When they start asking for "one more book" or extra hugs and kisses, remember to use the routine chart, you can say something like, "remember that we are doing what it is said here, we can read another book tomorrow." Be consistent with the rules you set.