Issues at Bedtime

Updated on November 30, 2007
M.P. asks from Ravena, NY
6 answers

My 2 1/2 year old son has starting testing the limits at bedtime in the last few weeks - progressively getting worse and worse. He started with just calling us in for an extra hug, which was cute. Then he started asking for a drink of water....then two, three or ten more! Now that he is potty training, he will use the excuse that he has to go to the bathroom ("big poopy!"). We had set a limit on the number of drinks he could get (brought to him in his room so he wasn't actually able to get out of bed) and the number of stories he could have read and we keep his bedtime routine very steady. However, we didn't want to discourage the pooping, so we were letting him get up to go to the bathroom. Until the last week it wasn't a problem because he was actually going when he asked to get up. Now he will ask to get up, sit on the potty and NOT poop, say he is all done and go back to bed. As soon as we shut the door, he is asking to go again. It would go on all night if we let it, but we have been stopping him at three or four times and letting him scream when we leave. Is this what we should be doing? Does anyone have any other suggestions?? (we have tried music/recorded stories also as motivation to stay in bed)

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answers from Buffalo on

You could try the ticket routine. I saw it on Supernanny, but you make up a "magic" ticket with cardstock, put some glitter on it and make it fancy. Your son gets the ticket before bed and can use the ticket for ONE reason (bathroom, water, extra story before bed etc.) Once he has used his ticket by turning it in to you, that's it. He needs to stay in bed. The next night, he gets the ticket back. You can also use a sticker chart along with that ticket. If he's dry/clean when he wakes up, then he gets a sticker on his chart. If he gets so many, he can turn them in for a little prize or special time with mom/dad. That way, maybe he'll use his ticket for that one trip to the bathroom if he really has to go (to earn that sticker), and quit asking for everything else. Hope this helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Sounds exactly the way my daughter was. Exactly! Sorry to say, nothing worked. In retrospect (she's now 5.5) she was just trying to get out of going to bed. Eventually that phase ended and she found something else to stall the whole routine. Yes, she still does it but it is much easier as she accepts 'no' much better now than at 2.

I guess the only thing I can suggest is to continue to give him a set number of trips to the potty. He needs to sit for a long time. Do not engage in converstaion (my DD liked that), or anything else that may make it 'fun' for him. Not much help, I know, but I just want you to know that I have been there and it will get better!




answers from Albany on

I've experienced with with my oldest for quite some time now. Especially since he physically does have bowel issues. He has no control over his bowels sometimes so when he says he has to go it is always a rush to the bathroom. He still tries to play this card with me when it comes to bed time. I started taking things away if he says he has to go then doesn't. He has some things he sleeps with (toys) and also always wants the water. I'm started telling him that if he says he has to go the bathroom and gets up, but then doesn't go, I'm going to take doggie away. Usually then he assures me he doesn't have to go anymore. It has worked on most occasions. I do have to take into adjustment when he is constipated and such things, but on a normal night basis, it works.



answers from New York on

Bed time is tough when they really do not want to go. For my son I try to negotiate. Like if you keep getting up when you do not have to go potty we wont be able to do.... or read.... I have foung the stories, music and such just kept my son up longer.



answers from Buffalo on

Here is another thing to think about.
Does he relate bed time to punishment?
Time outs should never be in his room or bed.
I could never stress this enough to parents...
Bed time should never be thought of as a punishment in their subconscious.


I agree with Amy, don't make the potty trip fun, it is not social. He is afraid of missing out on some socialization...

Have a get ready time, and a bed time. The longer he takes to truly settle down in bed, the earlier his get ready time is.....all playing has to stop more than an hour before bed because he takes too long settling down. Get on pajamas, brush his teeth, say good night to everyone, go potty...lots of time on the potty...then, get into bed.

We had evening "quiet time" too. It was time that no toys were allowed out, books, or coloring only. No running or horseplay. It was a time we used to teach good indoor behavior too. If a video was to be watched, it was not allowed to be something that would encourage her to get up and jump around, no barney or fun and dancing. Indoor voices only, TV volume low, light turned down and walking the through the house is slow and though you had a sleeping beast in the house. It was wind down time; it allowed the adrenal levels to drop in the body. So, lying her down in bed was not like taming a wild animal.

My daughter was afraid she was missing out on something fun being in when she did call me in, I made a big deal because she was waking me up...I was just dozing off. Told her she doesn't like being woken up and she gets cranky...."do you like when mommy is cranky?".


I would try quiet time and wind down time first. Maybe starting right after dinner....It is winter time and it gets dark fast. If the street lights are on then it is quiet time (then those nasty street lights are the bad guys...LOL). Then have a 'get ready for bed' time....with plenty of time to go potty.

If he asks to go, then you see he did NOT go, Scold him for fibbing.
When he asks to go again, he is to be scolded for not going before.
His actions aren't getting consequences...if you think about it you are not discouraging lying unless you scold him.

It would only take once for him to go, then claim he has to go again, and you sternly deny him the request. The worst case scenario is you wash his bedding in the morning.

If you are worried about regressing with potty training,
Give him a dose of his own medicine...He claims he has to go so much, he can do it on HIS time.

Do it to him when "HE" wants to do a video play with a new toy, or go for a treat......wait, go to the potty...go again, ...go again...
Then bring it up...that he always does that. He always has to keep going...And if he'd stop doing it, then you'd know he is a big boy and really knows when he has to go. After a while he may understand the "Boy who cried Wolf" principle.


I never had to resort to a creative idea for making her realize the importance of bedtime. But I did give an idea to a mom in the past.

Her son was 4 and decided he wanted to be up all night. Just would NOT go to sleep. So, if he needed more awake time, he was denied naps....awake time is for the day, not night. Eventually it worked, he was exhausted at night and went to sleep, and the daytime naps were allowed again, but shortened to make sure he was not getting his days backwards.




answers from New York on

oh, these strong willed kids will try all the tactics--some time back and not that long ago, we were going through a very similiar situation, our 2.10 yr old son--hug, hug, drink of water, hug, hug,--this may sound harsh however, to break the cycle that in a way my seem as if it's breaking our hearts but i tried it and it worked--it may be easier to say--not easy to do but it eventually will realize you and your hubby are not giving in..foot down...grows out of goes--you say--it's time for water, time for potty, time for bed, good night! cry----try to hold out and not return--eventually he will fall asleep--he's waiting for you to keep coming back--hey they love us and love life--from my studies it's a natural and typical behavior for certain kids, wants to stay up...we can relate right.

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