Three years old is such a magical age. Everything is new, fun, mysterious, full of life. That’s why it’s so hard for them to sleep—they think they’ll miss out on the next fun thing. It’s almost sad how mundane the rest of life is after three—you almost wish it could stay that exciting.
Except it’s also frustrating for them, as you’ll see after a while if you watch a three year old. They don’t quite have the “out of sight, out of mind” temporary memory that a baby has, but they are so easily distracted it’s almost like that. I remember with our first child, I tried logically explaining things to him as soon as he could talk. He would fight and fight, and it wouldn’t change a thing.
Then I watched my wife. When she wanted to change his mind about something, she would simply change the subject—distract him. Then without his realizing what she was doing, she would get him to do the exact same thing he was saying he wouldn’t do thirty seconds earlier.
That’s why child experts say you can do things like make going to sleep into a game to be more effective with the toddler age group. Complete with rewards and consequences if they follow the rules properly (or not). Review how the game went with them in the morning when they wake to determine if they “win” a reward or not.
Another winning strategy is to implement “sleep rules”. It doesn’t really matter so much what the rules are, the basic idea is don’t get up until morning time. Just make sure there are between three to five rules max, and that if you write up the rules it’s a nice fun looking poster rather than something you might in the Gulag.
Just remember, everything’s a game. Go with the flow—and work going to bed into the game—and you’ll have much less fight on your hands.