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Bedtime Resistance: What Causes it and How to Handle it

Medically reviewed by Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS · Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 23, 2021

Bedtime Resistance: What Causes it and How to Handle it

Bedtime resistance is when your toddler refuses to sleep on time, making unreasonable excuses. It is a common pediatric problem in almost every kid today. Sometimes, they would request to watch television for a little longer or at times, they are too charged up and in no mood to relax and sleep. This situation has to be dealt with very carefully and patiently. If forced to sleep, they might cry, protest or start throwing tantrums.

Bedtime resistance has its own set of negative effects on the daily life of parents as well as the kid. In this article, we shall learn about possible causes and ways to treat bedtime problems in children.

bedtime resistance

Possible Causes of Bedtime Resistance

  • Bedtime Resistance Due to FearYour kid might be scared of darkness or sleeping alone. Don’t force them to fall asleep if this is the case. Help them get over their fear.
  • Screen Time Before Bed – This is not just applicable for toddlers, but also for adults. Excessive screen time before bed can hamper your sleep and behavior.
  • When the Child Is Overtired or Not Tired at All – Resisting bedtime could be a result of both these ironic situations. If your kid has enjoyed a long afternoon nap, you can expect them to be up and energized until late in the evening. And on the contrary, if your child is extremely exhausted, chances are they will be bustling with an adrenaline rush when it’s time to head to bed. 

Ways To Treat Bedtime Resistance

Treating bedtime problems in children is not very difficult. Certain lifestyle changes can help you and your child get over the trouble of bedtime resistance. Here’s how.

Set a Sleep Schedule

If you want your child to sleep on time and avoid bedtime resistance, it would help to set a fixed bedtime. It will also help to develop an internal body clock for your kid. Apart from that, you should explain to your kids the importance of good sleep for their healthy growth and development. Create a bedtime schedule and stick to it.

Bedtime Routine to Avoid Bedtime Resistance 

With the bedtime routine, you can indulge in some soothing and relaxing activities such as bathing your child in hot water, telling stories or saying prayers. Maintaining a routine will help your kid get used to a disciplined and sound sleep. Avoid energetic activities like playing outside or watching television.

Bedroom Rules

If your baby is resisting bedtime, you must create bedroom rules. You can make some bedroom rules for your children to follow strictly. For example, no screen time in the bedroom after a set bedtime, no unnecessary running around or stepping out of the room and you can add more as per your kid’s nature and lifestyle. 

Ignore Requests After Bedtime

Every request needs to be dealt with before bedtime. Then, after giving a hug and a kiss to your children, try to leave their room and allow them to fall asleep on their own.

Reward Positive Behavior

When your children go to bed and wake up in the morning on time, you can reward them. This makes them feel motivated and inspired to keep this good habit going on.

For example, every time they go to sleep and wake up on time, give them a point and record this on a scoreboard. The scoreboard can be a chart on their wall. After they get a certain score, you can reward them with some gifts like a trip to the zoo or an adventure theme park. This will keep them away from troubling you with bedtime resistance.

Kids Adopt What They See Around

As parents or adults, if we don’t practice what we preach to our children, it is wrong to expect the same from them.

Bedtime resistance is a phenomenon observed not just in toddlers, but in adults too. Due to our addiction to gadgets and screens, our sleep cycle and sleep quality get adversely affected. 

Make sure to switch off your personal screen time as well as other sleep harming activities to handle your kid’s bedtime resistance and overcome the same. 

A healthy and disciplined lifestyle is all you need to get rid of all unwanted issues, including bedtime resistance.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Ruben Macapinlac, MD, DPPS

Pediatrics · Philippine Pediatric Society

Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jun 23, 2021

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