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Sleep: Bedtime Resistance

(En español, presione aquí)

 What is bedtime resistance or refusal?
 What is the cause?
 How can I end bedtime refusal?
 When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Sleep Diary: Chart
Sleep Diary: ChartClick here to view a full size picture.

What is bedtime resistance or refusal?

This handout applies to children who are over 2 years old and sleep in a bed (rather than a crib) and refuse to go to bed or stay in the bedroom. Often, they go to sleep while watching TV with a parent or they sleep in the parents' bed. In a milder form of bedtime refusal, a child stays in his bedroom but delays bedtime with ongoing questions, unreasonable requests, protests, crying, or temper tantrums. Such children are often tired in the morning and have to be awakened when it is time to get up.

What is the cause?

If the child occasionally comes to the parents' bed because he is frightened or not feeling well, he should be supported. However, if the child postpones bedtime or tries to share your bed every night, he is taking advantage of your good nature. These are unreasonable attempts to test the limits, not fears.

How can I end bedtime refusal?

These recommendations apply to children who are manipulative at bedtime, not fearful.

When should I call my child's healthcare provider?

Call during office hours if:

healthinformatics info

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Last Modified: 2009-08-13

Last Reviewed: 2012-05-14

Website Updated: March 2014

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Published by RelayHealth. © 2014 RelayHealth and/or one of its affiliates. All Rights Reserved.

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.


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