Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Are you struggling with your child about their bedtime?

Another great article from Kara Tamanini. Learn more about her fantastic children's books and more of her educational articles at

How to stop arguing with your kids about bedtime
By: Kara Tamamini

A frequent complaint from parents is how to get their kids to bed at night without arguing and complaining. Does this sound familiar to you? You put your child/children to bed at the designated time and five minutes later your daughter or son is out of their room complaining about something. They tell you that they have to go to the bathroom, they need a drink of water, they are not tired, they are scared, the television is too loud and they can not go to sleep, or they are still hungry! Most kids have said this or something similar to their parents at least a million times. So how exactly do we get our children to go to sleep at night and stay in their room asleep. Here are a few simple tips that may be helpful:

1.) Make sure you are not putting your child to bed too early. A 3-year-old child most likely has a bedtime that is much earlier than say a 9-year-old child. Most children require alot of sleep, however if you are putting your eight or nine-year-old to bed at 8 p.m. and they don’t get up until 7 a.m. then you want to consider letting them stay up a little later. Yes, it is true that children require more sleep than adults, however some children do not require as much sleep as others. Try letting the older child stay up a little later.

2.) Sitting around playing video games or watching television after dinner will most likely not tire most children. Try letting them play outside or go for a walk or some type of physical exertion. Physical exertion wears children out not T.V. or sitting in their room.

3.) Turn off most of the lights in the house and if you are watching television then turn the T.V. down. Most kids, no matter what the age will not go to bed if they think that you are doing something interesting. Kids have the attitude, “but I don’t want to miss anything” and if they see or hear you laughing or doing something interesting they will struggle to go to bed.

4.) Do not feed your child sugar or caffeine at night. If children are struggling to go to bed, the last thing they need is a soda or chocolate bar after dinner. These types of snacks, if given should be given after lunch or earlier in the daytime.

5.) Keep a routine time to go to bed and stick to it. If you have a schedule of what your child does before they go to bed, then don’t deviate from the routine. For example, if your routine is to eat dinner, let your child play outside, then take a bath, then go to bed, then stick to it. Changing routines, no matter how old the child is disconcerting and most kids and adults do better when they know what to expect.

Above all, be firm and consistent. If you give in over and over, then your child will try to manipulate you and test your patience. You can expect your child to cry, plead, and whine about going to bed. Expect the argument that will ensue, but remember to be consistent.

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