Some nights, it seems like finding the finite answer to pi would be easier than finding ways to help your child like bedtime. They can be the most congenial kiddos all day long, but when the bewitching hour hits, so does the stubborn streak. Following are some ways to help your child like bedtime that may give you both a more peaceful night.
1. Do the Countdown
One of the ways to help your child like bedtime is to make it a fun time. No child wants to be shocked into (gasp) bedtime. Soon enough in their life, they will excitedly do this countdown as adults, but for right now, they will fight it like they fight the toothbrush. An hour before bedtime, give them the sixty minute Whoopie (warning sounds too ominous). Then the 40 minute, 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, and 3 minutes. It may seem like a large portion of the hour is spent calling this out to your child, and it is. Nothing wrong with some interactive parenting to get the little ones in their bed, giving you some time to yourself at the end of the evening as well. Make sure they get enough sleep in a night, as this will make for a happier morning too. Many pediatricians suggest 10-12 hours a night. You’ve seen the way they grow practically overnight! This takes a lot of energy!
2. Have Something to Look Forward to at Bedtime
Whether it’s a made-up story to share, conversation time with the grown-ups, listening to some happy, soothing music, planning something fun for the next day, or whatever helps him to focus and wind down, do it. Kids take a lot from our energy, so regardless of how stressed or tired you are, leave that at the door while you send them off to dreamland, and let this time be owned only by the two of you.
3. No Negotiation
Regardless of what’s going on when the final countdown happens—TV shows, games, phone conversations, etc—it all stops with the clock strikes Bedtime. If you’ve done the sixty minute Whoopie, they’ve had plenty of notice, and need to learn your boundaries. This may not be easy in the beginning, but it eventually will become a well-deserved piece of cake!
4. Leave with a Smile
Regardless of their pleas and eyes begging you for just a little more time before sleep, stand by your ground rules. Chances are part of their mood is based in their fatigue. Keep remembering that as long as they are not ill or afraid, having them stick to this bedtime routine is healthy for them. Give them a loving smile and hug, and send them off to sweet dreams. Ask them if they would tell you about their dreams in the morning too. This gives them a sense that they are being active in sleep, and you really care about what goes on in their wonderful little heads.
5. Keep the Nightly Pattern the Same
Kids are creatures of habit, as much as they don’t want to be. Having them go to bed at the same time each night, and completing the same routine on their way there (teeth brushing, flossing, face washing, putting clothes in their hamper) will get them ready for bed, and for the responsibilities in their adult life to come. While weekend bedtimes can vary a little, it’s important not to swing to the other end of the spectrum if you would like their sleeping patterns to be essentially uninterrupted throughout the week.
6. No Electronics within ½ Hour of Lights out
There may be nothing that can turn bedtime on its ear like video games. Kids get lost in them, losing track of time and revving their energy. At the sixty minute Whoopie, let your child know the electronics—Wii, laptop, notebook, phone, Ds, etc—all go off in thirty minutes. That way you have the thirty minutes right before bed to start the wind-down. Make sure there are no electronics in the room too!
7. Keep the Faith
No matter how challenging it seems, be positive, praising, and patient. Part of the job of a child is to test boundaries, and it’s the parent’s job to maintain theirs. If you get some push back at times, it’s exactly as it should be. Just stand your ground, and in time, your child will be more rested, and you will be too!
What is the best advice you could give someone in how to get their child to go to bed happily?