Skip Nav

Go to Sleep Already!: How to End the Bedtime Power Struggle

Go to Sleep Already!: How to End the Bedtime Power Struggle

Does your child leave their room at nap or bedtime? Are they calling for you instead of sleeping? Is your child spending more time fighting with you than resting? Speaking for many parents with "bedtime monsters" who won't go to sleep, Circle of Moms member and mother of two Kelly R. writes, "I've negotiated, bargained, explained, reasoned, yelled, rubbed his back, removed privileges (such as no story before bed tomorrow) and, yes, spanked. None have worked. I'm at my wits end.”

The first thing to realize is that you cannot make someone sleep (unless you are going to use unsavory means and I’m sure that is not really the way that you want to handle this sleeping situation). So instead of making the goal to have your child sleep, make the goal be to have your child stay in their room and in their bed. If your child is in bed quietly reading, they are closer to sleeping than if they are fighting with you about nap or bedtime. At least if they are in bed chilling quietly they are resting and you have some “You Time.”

Start by having a talk with your child; “I know that sometimes you are not ready to sleep, but when it is time to go to your room, it is time to go to your room. You can listen to a book on tape or read if you like, but you need to stay in your room unless you have to go potty.” Trust me, if your kid throws up or has a horrible nightmare they will let you know about it the moment it happens. You will not miss a thing. Lets talk about morning, or almost morning, as some kids wake up at 5 A.M. and that still is considered night to many tired parents. Sometimes children wake up and come looking for you because they do not know what to do with themselves when they wake up. Make it clear to your child when they can leave their room. Have a light on a timer, a musical alarm or the like so that your child knows when they can open their door and start the day. Let them know that if they do get up they can read, or color or play quietly until the decided time. Better that they play quietly than wake you at 5 A.M., right?


Once the power struggles are left in the dust you will be surprised at just how quickly your child will end up falling asleep. This is really important to understand because many parents are afraid of this philosophy out of fear that their kids will stay up all night reading. It won’t happen. Remember, us big people often read in order to make us more sleepy. You will also have children who are armed with a morning wake up plan that keeps them quiet and in their room until you are ready for them (assuming you do not sleep until noon). Now that is a dream come true for any parent.

Brandi Davis is a professional Parenting Coach with a Bachelors of Science in Child Development and Family Studies, and 14 years of teaching experience. Her book, O.K. I’m A Parent Now What? is a compilation of articles touching on a myriad of child rearing topics such as parent-child communication, quick dinners, tantrums, how to get your kids to listen, productive discipline and much more, and will help parents find new ways to get what they need accomplished without all of the tantrums and power struggles that create conflicts within the family.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Latest Family
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds