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Dawdling at Tuck Ins Solved in Two Nights

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End Prolonged Tuck-Ins in Only Two Nights

There is nothing more motivating than another parent’s success story to help bolster the strength and courage to make changes in your own family. 

Here is the testimony of one family’s success when they agreed to buckle down on being both FIRM and FRIENDLY at respecting bedtime tuck ins. It only took two – count’em TWO nights to train the child and restore peace to the family evenings. 

Here is what I wrote Adrienne when she emailed me about her daughter who was dawdling at tuck ins, drawing them out from 7:45pm to after 9pm with complaints of fear of the dark, needing to pee and all the other tactics kids discover.

Hopefully you’ll feel encouraged enough to try my advice too. 

Hello Adrienne,

Glad things work out so well with the potty training!

For tucks-in, go through the regular routine, but when it is the last story, kiss her goodnight and leave!
Don’t fall for her stalling tactics. Simply say "tuck ins are over, we will see you in the morning". "You don’t need to sleep, but you do need to stay in your room."

Then leave the room.

If she comes out, you need to walk her back without talking and simply offer the choice: "Can you stay in your room on your own? Or do I need to put up a gate? (or you can put a childproof door knob cover on)

If she comes out, simply walk her back, no words, no more tuck-ins with hugs and kisses, just put up the gate and go about your evening business.

She will scream and cry and plead.

But if you can do this one or two nights she will stop trying to "work you over" and get on with getting herself to sleep again – which she has shown you she can do already. 



Here is feedback I got from Adrienne:

Hi again!

Well, once again we have followed your advice and seen amazing results. Adelaide screamed and sobbed, ran out of her room and hid under our bed, behind the curtains, wailed and yelled for 2 delightful nights! We had to walk her back into her room quietly many many times. On the 3rd night, she kissed me and said "I love you mum, sleep tight" and rolled over and went to sleep. She has slept 11 hours a night since that night and is less tired during the day and evenings are happy in our house again!

Thanks again, Alyson! You’re starting to get a reputation in our house for working miracles!


I hope you’re inspired to get past the tears,tantrums and tactics and re-establish a respectful bedtime routine!

Share your stories with others in the comment field below.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

More about Alyson

8 Responses to “Dawdling at Tuck Ins Solved in Two Nights”

  1. Fiona MacCool

    I am on my first night of this “plan” with my 3 year old as I write this. We are struggling with whether we should be responding and constantly walking her back to her room over and over again because this seems like engaging to us, even though we don’t talk or really look at her and try to be completely consistent. We feel like prisoners in our home, whispering and trying not to answer our own bedroom door as she pounds on it, only to have to walk her back over and over again in fits and cycles. Tell me this gets easier! I know that smart kids can spot the smallest hole in your plan miles away, so can you clarify when to do the walk back and when to ignore them for having left their room?

  2. Fiona MacCool

    After the “walk back to your room” method on night one (8:15 – 10:30), we changed course and did the plan where we offer her a choice to stay in her room by herself or have us put a child proof lock on her door. The first night she came out of her room and we had to keep her in there with the lock. She cried and pounded on the door for 59 minutes. The next day she talked about how she finally went to sleep on her own after a lot of crying. We were really encouraging and kept saying “I know you can do it and you are going to get better and better at it every night”. We also spent the whole day giving her our special family time focus. The second night she cried for 11 minutes and stayed in her room in the morning playing quietly until the alarm clock went off at 7:20 am. Tonight she went to be with no crying and no trying to come out of the room! A weekend success story thanks to the great advice from Alyson! With both kids asleep for the night by 8:15 we have our evenings back and no longer feel like we are being outsmarted by our cranky 3 year old.
    What is so helpful to her but even more so to us is the correct way to articulate this as a choice for her and a set of rules for the family rather than bribing/rewards or punishments/consequences and begging and ultimately being inconsistent. Being able to say “We need to be quiet in our rooms and not yell out in the night but if you do yell, we are not going to come into your room or answer you. We love you and we are nearby to keep you safe but we are not coming back until tomorrow because we all need to be by ourselves in our rooms at night time”. Then, when she tried to leave the room we were able to say “by coming out of your room you are showing me that you need some help so I am going to put this on your door.”
    Once we walked away and left, it was torture but because it is a true cry it out consistent method, we didn’t have to question ourselves and wonder about how to not engage her over and over again with the walk back method.
    I hope this advice helps others – Good luck!

  3. Linda

    Our two daughters 5 and 8 share a bedroom. The 5 yr old is not getting enough sleep because she doesn’t want to go to bed unless her older sister goes too. The problem is that the older sister doesn’t seem to need as much sleep. What should we do? We’ve tried putting 5 yr old to bed before 8 yr old, but then the “stretching” as we call it occurs where she wants to put away her clothes, takes forever in brushing teeth…it’s very frustrating. The older daughter suffers too, listening to screaming and has started to feel like she is the cause of the problem. Any advice would be helpful. If we have to, we will move older sister out and make a room of herown.

  4. Kelly

    We are in same boat with almost 3 year old son. He shares room with 10 month old daughter who goes to sleep first, but then he stalls for ages (sometimes an hour and a half), until I finally threaten to take away his stuffies. The he will go to sleep. I hate that he insists on getting me to the angry stage before he will go to sleep. I don’t have an option about room sharing, so I have to figure out how to make this work. So frustrating, as baby goes to sleep at 7:30 and sleeps through until 6 am.

  5. Alanna

    I would love to see middle of the night wake ups addressed. We’ve followed Alyson’s method of getting our four year old son to STAY in bed until the morning. However, the issue we are having is that he’ll YELL for us in the middle of the night. If we go in an talk to him, he’ll keep yelling after we leave. If we leave him be to “yell it out”, he’ll keep yelling. The yelling goes on for 1 to 2 hours everything night with no end in sight!

  6. Shwarmy

    I have read and re-read your books many many times. My daughter is very feisty and has been since birth. When we did sleep training (with a sleep doula), it worked and gave us the tools to keep things from getting out of control. We’ve always been very strict with our daughter when it comes to tuck ins. We do EVERYTHING you wrote above and have been for 3 years. It was easy when she was in a crib and couldn’t get out. The hard part was her screaming. She screams her head off every night when I leave her room. We recently moved her into a bed and the first week was great. Then she went right back to her old screaming routine. She also tries all of the typical excuses to get me back. We have held strong and leave when the bedtime routine ends. We luckily have a gate (because of a younger sibling) and so she can’t come downstairs. She stands at that gate and cries hysterically….sometimes for 5 minutes and sometimes for 1/2 hour. I, the mother gets it the worst. She does none of this with our nanny and very mildly with my husband. My worry is that this behaviour isn’t ending. It’s been 3.5 years of consistency and she still screams her head off. I worry that I’m not giving her something she needs. Advice?

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  8. Alyson Schafer

    Glad to be helpful!


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