How to Get Defiant Toddler Twins to Sleep

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - July 28, 2023

How to Get Defiant Toddler Twins to Sleep

A twin dad asks, “how do you get twins to bed when they have to share a small room and are old enough to be defiant.”

Listen to this episode as I discuss how to help break this pattern and what to expect with your twins, including:

  • Advantage of separating for bed time
  • When you should stay in the room with them
  • Adjusting bedtimes
  • Reinforcing the behavior you want to see
  • Importance of bedtime routines
  • Why consistency is key to a smooth bedtime

Watch the Video


Hello there! Welcome to the one hundred and twenty third episode of the Dads Guide to Twins podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at where you’ll find much more information on having and raising twins, as well as the show notes and transcript for this episode and all previous podcast episodes.

Today’s show is brought to you by my second book for father’s of twins, Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. You can find that book and learn more about it at

Bed Time With Defiant Twins

So today we another question from another twin dad. He says: “Our problem is we have a two bedroom condo with almost three year old twins. Can you talk about how to get twins to bed when they have to share a small room and are old enough to be defiant?”

Okay, so this one is tough. We’ve gone through something very similar. At some point in time, your twins will be very defiant. Especially, at this age, almost 3. It’s like that terrible two’s that rolls into terrible three’s. Your toddlers become very stubborn and defiant. It’s kind of foreshadowing how it’ll be when your twins are teenagers.

Their behaviors and choices at this age can be very frustrating, especially when it comes bedtime. Because after dealing with your very active young twins through the whole day, you want nothing more than to get them to bed so that you yourself can get a break and rest from taking care of them. So this is a tough situation.

As we’ve talked about in a past podcast, sleep training your infants can be great for a while. But once they become older, and they are out of their cribs, they have their own little minds of what they want to do or not want to do, things become a little more challenging. And when you have rambunctious toddlers, they need some other methods to encourage them to calm down and to go to sleep.

So, when you have defiant twins, here’s six things to can try to encourage the proper behavior that you want to see.

Different Bed Times

Now, the first one is that you may want to separate them for bedtime. We had to do this for a while with our girls during nap time for example because they were so active and loud and wanted to play with each other, that they would play the whole time and not take their naps. And so, we put one of our girls in her room for nap time and the other in our room for nap time. And then they would fall asleep that way.

Now the same principle can apply to you with your twins. If you put one of them down in their bedroom and one down in your bedroom, they fall asleep and then when it’s time for you to go to sleep, you just transfer the sleeping twin back from your bed to their bedroom. So that’s one thing you might want to consider for your situation.

If the reason they’re being defiant is because they’re feeding off of each other’s energy, talking and playing with each other, then you may need to separate them for bedtime until they can get in the good habit of going to sleep.

(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)

Stay in the Room

The second option you can try is to stay in the room with them. Again, this is something we had to do with our girls for a while. We would stay in the same room, even though it seems they should be tired. They have this boundless energy to just talk and play and make noise. But by either myself or my wife sitting in the room with them, not talking with them or interacting with them, it was enough supervision for them to just stay in their beds and not talk. And then they would slowly drift off to sleep. That may be something you want to try as well for you and your spouse. If it’s possible for you to just stay in the room for maybe 10-15 minutes to help them transition from crazy daytime activities to just falling asleep.

Later Bed Times

Another option you can try is maybe a later bedtime is okay. You need to talk to your pediatrician to see if your twins are getting enough sleep through the night that they need. It is possible that they can stay up a little bit later and still get enough sleep. I know when you get into a habit of a typical bedtime, say a 7 p.m. bedtime, and all of a sudden it’s getting harder and harder to get your twins down at 7 o clock. This is constant battle. You’re like why is this taking so long. It may be because your twins are a little bit older. They can handle that later bedtime and get enough sleep by the time they wake up in the morning.

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We are parents are kind of reluctant to make that transition because we realize that’s an hour later of non kid time that we have in the evening. But unfortunately, as your twins get older they’re going to have a later bedtime. That’s the reality. So you may talk to pediatrician to see if they get enough sleep. And if they are, maybe push their bedtime back a little time so that they are more tired and more ready to go to sleep than they were at earlier regular bedtime.

Be Positive

Okay, so number four is, remember positive reinforcement when they are doing something well. So if you go into the room and they are being crazy at bedtime, you should praise and give positive reinforcement to the one twin who is doing the best job. So maybe one twin is on her bed and the other twin is running around the room, then praise the twin who is on the bed. You know, great job for being on the bed, I really appreciate it, that’s wonderful! We have seen when we do this kind of positive reinforcement, the other twin 9 times out of 10, will immediately want the same praise and attention and will do the same action.

So in the example I gave you, if I go into the room and one of the girls is on her bed and the other is walking around praise the girl who is on her bed, sister will immediately jump on her bed, lay down and seek that same attention and reinforcement. Look for what is going right in the chaos that you may see around bedtime and then praise that one twin to get the kind of positive peer pressure you’re working on with the sibling.

Bedtime Routine

One option is to make sure that you have a bedtime routine that will help your twins start to relax, start to wind down and expect bedtime. If every night is different at your house, it’s a different bedtime routine, it’s a different bed time then things are confusing to your twins. And it’s hard for them to realize the day is over, it’s time to go to sleep because every day is different.

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Hopefully you started a bedtime routine from a very early age and you can kind of maintain that pattern; change it to be more age appropriate. But they should be changing in their pajamas at three years old, they should be able to dress themselves, they should be able to brush their teeth, get ready for bed; you know maybe you read a story with them, you tuck them in, sing a song to them. These types of things help to relax them and get them in the pattern of going to bed. So make sure you have a good and healthy bedtime routine for your twins.


The number six thing that you have to remember is being consistent in the enforcement. Don’t give into their bad behavior. Your twins, particularly 2 to 3 year olds, will keep pushing your buttons to see how long it will take before you break; before you give in to their requests, demands or their bad behavior. And as soon as you give in then you have reinforced the bad behavior.

So as hard as it is you must stay strong, stay the course and be consistent with your enforcement; when bedtime is, what expectations are for them. They need to stay in their bed, then encourage and reinforce that good behavior that’s what’s going to happen for you. If you start to give into bad behavior the inconsistencies will start to completely undermine your parenting and your discipline.

Share the Burden

Following this kind of pattern these six things we talked about can be kind of a burden or a stress on you as a parent. So make sure you and your spouse are on board with these routines and habits that you want to have with your twins every night. And make sure your taking turns so that not one parent is carrying all the stress and burden of this responsibility. Some of these things you can even divide and conquer. One spouse takes one twin and you take the other twin.

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You know if you have other kids in the home then one of you has to take care of the twins while the other spouse takes care of the other children. But make sure that you’re sharing your expectations and responsibilities with each other. Good luck with defiant twins.

Parenting Defiant Children

Being defiant at bedtime is just one of the ways that your twins can be stubborn and defiant. But all of these principles we talked about can be applied not just at bedtime but to parenting in general. And if you’re consistent with your reinforcement; you’re having good routines, you’re positively enforcing the behavior you want to see and you are adjusting the environment as best as you can to accommodate your twins’ things are going to work out to your advantage. Keep at it, good luck, and before you know it your twins will be going to sleep all by themselves without intervention and without any shenanigans.

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Once again today’s show was brought to you by my book Dad’s Guide to Raising Twins: How to Thrive as a Father of Twins. You can read more about that book at Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.

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4 Critical Mistakes Expectant Twin Parents Make

Original photo by Donnie Ray Jones

Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the definitive guide to raising twins. "Dad's Guide to Raising Twins" was written for fathers of twins to help guide you through the first several years with twins. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.

2 thoughts on “How to Get Defiant Toddler Twins to Sleep”

  1. Thank you so much for this! My twins are about to turn 2 and I’ve been wondering about strategies to help once they’re out of their cribs (which I hope won’t be soon!). I really appreciate the tips and advice!!!!!


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