How to Deal with Bedtime Struggles
Remember back when you were a child and you hated going to bed? It's like you just knew that all the great fun in the world happened after 8 p.m. and you were being sent to bed for it. So you'd make up excuses to delay the inevitable -- you were thirsty...you had to go to the bathroom...you wanted Mom to tell you a story. But in the end the lights were out and you were tucked in.
Well, it's no different with your own kids. Even though they desperately need the sleep and have been cranky all evening, they will still fight against bedtime until that moment their eyes close.
Author Lisa Brock provides the following guidelines in helping your children get to sleep at night:
Maintain a Routine
As tempting as it is to let your kids stay up late and sleep in on weekends, this can mess up their internal clock. The best way to keep your kids in a good sleeping pattern is to have them go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends and holidays. You will also find that establishing a bedtime routine will help. Create a bedtime checklist for your children that includes tasks such as brushing their teeth, brushing their hair and putting on their pajamas.
Get the Kids Settled Down
If your children are running around the house, or getting wound up over a video game or engrossed in a favorite TV show, they will probably have a hard time calming down for bed. They're having great fun -- why would they want to stop now? So a little before bedtime, start winding things down in your house. Turn off the TV and computer, limit roughhousing and work on getting things calmed down. You might have a reading or story time while you play some classical music in the house. And while getting your kids to exercise is great, make sure they do that earlier in the evening. Too close to bedtime will actually keep them wired.
Give a Countdown
Don't ambush your kids with the "It's time for bed!" call. Give them some warning and then get them started on their nighttime routines. Set down firm boundaries on the bedtime curfew, and once that time has arrived, brook no arguments or games.
Set a Limit on Preparation
Brock says, "More than 30 minutes of preparation may distract kids, allowing more opportunities for whining and complaining. Longer preparation can cause frustration that the whole evening is taken up with bedtime activities. Keep your routine to a minimum so your child knows what to expect."
Try to Keep Things Positive
If your kids have been complaining about bedtime, you may not be in the best of moods by the time they're in bed. But try to keep bedtime pleasant -- something you and your kids can actually look forward to. You can use this time to snuggle and read stories together. Be sure to tell your children you love them at the end of each day.
And while following these guidelines won't solve all your bedtime woes, getting your kids into a set routine and setting firm boundaries on bedtime curfews will help to make sure your kids get enough sleep each night.
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