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How to get twin grandsons to sleep

I have 3 1/2 year old twin grandsons. They go to preschool for approx. 2 hours every morning Monday thru Friday at an Elementary School. After preschool they either go home or to daycare at a church.

It is awful trying to get them in bed at night and some evenings are very trying.

We have tried a swat on the butt, stern voice and time out by holding in lap so the can't get away. They say they will be good or go to bed but they start smiling and think everything is funny.

Parents are very frustrated and now they don't seem to listen to us Grandparents. Help!


Matthew Gibson | Pediatrician

Matthew Gibson

Parenting 3 year olds can be tough and twins would likely be more than double the work! 

I'm convinced people who talk about terrible twos just haven't had three year olds yet. Kids at that age are on the cusp of wanting more independence but often not yet having it and can be a handful.

There are a few tips I typically offer people: 

Always be consistent in discipline and never give in to bad behavior.

This will teach kids that if they just try hard enough maybe they'll get their way. This is key when there are multiple care providers and people at different times/places.

Bedtime is always a struggle and the trick is trying to encourage them to be good instead of punishing them to be bad.

Often this comes in the form of a sticker chart or reward system where if they go to bed and stay in bed they get a sticker and after 3 or 5 stickers (whatever the family desires) they get a reward, such as a special treat/snack, one-on-one time with a family member, or a special activity like going to the park.

Get buy-in for the reward

The important thing is buy in from the kids, so making sure it's something they really want is key. It will undoubtedly lead to a meltdown the first time they don't get it, but that's when you get to try and make them realize it's only their own fault.

Give them a break

Time out can always be effective at 3 as well. I recommend adhering to the age/time rule where they stay in timeout for as many minutes as they are old. Have them sit or stand quietly (in a corner with little distraction is usually effective), but the timer restarts every time they break the rule.

Rest assured that for as frustrating as this behavior is, it's normal for their age.

The hard part is because they're twins, they likely feed back on one another and make it much more challenging.

Don't react

Lastly, as a parent/grandparent/provider, it is important to always remain calm and never laugh or get worked up by their actions as first and foremost they are just looking for some type of response or reaction, be it positive or negative.

Read more answers by Dr. Gibson