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8 Common Decoys Toddlers Use to Distract Us

Photograph by Instagram

Anyone who has children knows that toddlers hate to go to sleep. This is where a toddler's true genius comes out. You would think it would be easy, getting this small human being to lay her little head down and fall into slumber after a long day of vigorously playing, climbing, building and tearing down things, throwing food and spastically running away from you. But instead, they become their own little special forces unit, implementing clever strategies and tactics to carry out their nightly objective of not going to sleep.

Photograph by Getty Images/Flickr RM

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Their ways are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, but overall, it's a full-on campaign. And we as parents have to hold our ground, be ready for surprise attacks and often have to call for back up. Even if you are one of those lucky parents who claims to have a dreamy unicorn child who "just puts himself to sleep without a struggle" — first of all, PLEEZE!, and secondly, I know at some point, you've seen your toddler pull a few of these shenanigans. Here are 10 ways toddlers try to stall the bedtime process.

1. Poops Herself

I don't know how they do it, but they time it so perfectly and get their bowels to be so in sync with plans to stave off bedtime. In our house, it happens more often than you'd think, when three to five minutes after we've laid her down and said good night, we hear her screaming "POOP" in a tone that half says, "Help me!" and half says, "In your FACE!"

2. "One more story"

This trick is as old as time. After reading one or even two charming bedtime stories, your little one excitedly asks for another. And then another. And another. You want to believe that it is because of your excellent character voices or meaningful pauses, but let's face it, your toddler is PLAYING YOU! Sure, he probably loves books and learning, sure he probably has a vivid imagination that is fueled by these stories, but he also knows that as soon as storytime ends, it's lights out and Snoozeville for him. So the longer he can keep you doing that overly precious "Good Night Moon" whisper-voice or rambling on about a starving caterpillar, the longer he can be not sleeping.

3. "I'm thirsty/hungry!"

This one is tough because on the one hand you don't want to be foiled by a devious toddler's ploy to stay awake, especially when you know she just downed a glass of milk, but on the other, to deny your child food or water when they are pleading for it makes you feel like a total asshole. This anti-bedtime tactic is one of the most effective. It also cleverly paves the way for the "pooping" and "peeing" stall strategies, which may likely occur shortly thereafter.

When they pull out that power-punch, the trifecta of "I wuv you mommy" accompanied by lots of hugs and kisses, oh wow you're so screwed.

4. Owie Drama

My daughter seems to get spur of the moment invisible lacerations on her fingers and elbows right around bedtime. Sometimes her foot even gets "boken" (broken) by the air. This buys more time and attention as we must address these ailments with healing kisses, a Band-Aid or sometimes even a Pillow Pet splint.

5. The Melt Mommy's Heart Tactic

In this sleep-averse scheme, your toddler does something so adorable that it's hard for you not to linger with her and interact with her a while longer just to soak up that sweet, sweet moment and mood. You can quickly give appreciation and then say "good night" for an unsolicited kiss, a "pretty mommy" or an extra long hug, but when they pull out that power-punch, the trifecta of "I wuv you mommy" accompanied by lots of hugs and kisses, oh wow you're so screwed.

6. The Entertainer

We clap for them and egg them on during the day when they go into performance mode, so why wouldn't we encourage them when they channel Taylor Swift at bedtime? I try my best to put my foot down early with this one, but my daughter knows that when she goes "Bey" on me, I turn into a weird superfan watching her in pure delight and egging her on for one more song while I fumble with my iPhone to record her. I have a lot of work to do on myself.

7. "I'm scared!"

I have to admit, this one gets me EVERY time. Why? Two words: Marie Osmond. When I was young, my aunt gave me a life-size (it had to be 3 feet tall) Marie Osmond doll that sat in the corner of my room and threatened to kill me most nights. Though she only tormented me for a few weeks until I got over my worry of hurting my aunt's feelings and told my parents, she traumatized me, and I spent many nights trying to get over that spooky, even if a little bit country, feeling. Point is, I remember how awful it felt to be scared and to not know how to cope, so I run into my kids' rooms anytime I hear the word "scared" just to reassure them. And I also will never buy one single Nutrisystem product, lady.

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8. "You hurt my feelings."

You've read Junior his 1 (or 3 ) stories, gotten him some water, changed his diaper or taken him to the potty and kissed him goodnight. As you walk away, he spits a dagger at your heart, but mostly your patience, with a "You hurt my feelings, mommy." My daughter is only 22 months, so I'm uncertain as to whether she really know what that means, but I gather that she gets the gist, and whatever the case, it still jars my guts when I hear it in that itty bitty Toddlerese voice, giving it her best effort as a last resort. Call me a sucker, tell me I'm forming bad habits. Fine. But I always turn around.

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