By: Jenn Kelner


5 Easy Tips to Avoid your Child’s Curtain Calls

Just when you think you have successfully put your toddler to bed and are settling in to watch your favourite show, you hear the pitter-patter of little feet then a quiet voice saying “I need another hug and a kiss.”  So you tuck your child back in bed, give them a hug and a kiss and say goodnight, and as you’re leaving the room you hear “I forgot to tell you something.”  This delaying tactic continues on until you lose your patience, raise your voice and everyone is upset.  Before this happens in your house, follow these 5 simple tips to avoid your child’s repeat bedtime requests or “curtain calls”.

Set a timer

At the beginning of your bedtime routine, have your child set a timer for 15 minutes.  Explain to them that once the timer goes off, it’s time to say goodnight and go to sleep.  You can also use a digital clock to show your child that it’s bedtime and say something like, “Look, the clock says it’s bedtime, so it’s time to say one last goodnight.”  This tactic shifts the blame to the clock, making it easier for your child to accept it.  They can’t negotiate with a clock!

Too late - conceptual alarm clock showing that you are too late


Anticipate any requests

Before the timer goes off or before it’s time for lights out, anticipate what your child may ask for and include it in the routine before it’s time to leave the room.   If they usually ask for a drink, put some water beside their bed.  If they say they need to go to the bathroom, make sure they go before its time to say goodnight.  If they often say they are hungry, offer them a healthy snack before they brush their teeth.  Give them plenty of hugs and make sure you ask them if they would like to tell you anything else before you go.  By anticipating their requests, you will be able to reasonably ignore their curtain calls.

Use a lovey

One reason why children use curtain calls as a stalling tactic is because they may be experiencing some separation anxiety.  To help them deal with their anxiety, introduce a lovey or a transitional object if they don’t already have one.  Their lovey could be a stuffed toy or a blanket and it will help them feel safe when you can’t be with them.

Consistent reaction

It’s important not to let your child run the show at bedtime.  Remember that you are in charge, and if you are inconsistent with your reaction to their bedtime behavior, they will take full advantage.  If you say “this is the last time” make sure it is indeed that last time because they will learn that they can negotiate if you don’t follow through.  Decide how many times you will respond to their curtain calls and make sure you are consistent every night.

Sleep rules

If your child is still requesting extra bedtime attention, implement some sleep rules to help them learn what is expected at bedtime.  Praise them when they follow their sleep rules, and follow through on some consequences when they don’t.   The last thing you want is an overtired child who has difficulty falling asleep because they delay bedtime with their curtain calls night after night.

sleeping child in high key

BIO:Jenn Kelner is a mother of 3 children (including twins!) and a Certified Child Sleep Consultant at BabyZzz.  She helps tired families with infants, babies and toddlers become well rested families through customized sleep solutions and support.  She offers various services including home, phone/Skype and email consultations.  For more information visit Facebook: Twitter: @mybabyzzz