Lately, we've experienced a new phenomenon — the early rising toddler. It's challenged us in ways we hadn't anticipated. It's also left us exhausted.

When a toddler rises before the sun, it tests a parent's patience and leaves us faced with yet another transition that forces us to improvise and search for answers. Here are a few tips that might help you deal with the issue. (Otherwise, you might want to consider dropping him at grandma's for a few days so you can catch up on your sleep!)

1. Be Consistent

It's the hardest thing to do because the easiest thing to do is allow toddler to climb in bed with you and flip on some cartoons. But that only sets a precedent and will encourage your child to look forward to those early mornings. A better choice is to return toddler to his room and explain to him that it isn't time to wake up yet. He needs to stay in bed and either sleep or lay quietly.

2. Keep Talking to a Minimum

Toddlers do not have an unexpressed thought. They want to engage us in conversation and are excited to see us — no matter the mood we're in. When it's too early to start the day, briefly explain that it's not yet wake-up time and remind him that it's time to go back to bed. At night remind your young child that we don't get out of bed until the sun comes up. Repeat as often as necessary.

3. Use an Alarm Clock

Let an alarm clock tell your toddler when it's OK to get up and get out of bed. There are a number of clocks on the market that parents can set for a reasonable time to encourage toddler to stay in bed longer. One tip is to start small — set the clock 15 or 20 minutes ahead of your child's normal wake up time so the change is gradual and builds confidence.

4. Respond Positively When You Are Jarred Awake

We all know that isn't easy when it's early and you're tired. However, a few reinforcing words might encourage toddler to listen to you and follow your directions. The only thing worse than being awake at an unreasonable hour is being angry at an unreasonable hour.

5. Celebrate Successes

If your toddler has a few good nights or pays attention and plays quietly in her room, tell her how proud you are of her. These might be baby steps, but making her feel that she's showing improvement might get you an extra 15 minutes of sleep tomorrow.

6. Remember That This Will Not Last Forever

Like most things toddlers do, this is temporary. They'll grow out of it. Support them, teach them and wait for a day when you can wake up on your own.

7. If She Does Wake Up Early, Make Sure She Gets a Nap at a Reasonable Hour

Hopefully, you can take a nap, too, to catch up on that valuable sleep you missed.

Also, relax your expectations. There is no easy answer and each day might bring a new challenge. Just when you think toddler's got it figured out, they'll take a step backwards. Keep your cool, be firm but fair, and pray for nap time to arrive soon.