Do you find yourself struggling with your child when bedtime approaches? If so, here are some tips for establishing a reliable bedtime routine:
6:00 pm Dinner: Rather than indulging in caffeinated and sugary foods, encourage meals high in complex carbohydrates with a small amount of protein. Fruits such as apples, pears and bananas are always a favorite, while whole grain crackers, bread, and dairy- or soy-based products also help to promote great sleep.
6:30pm Quiet time: This will help your child unwind and promote family time. One hour before bedtime, turn off all electronics and encourage everyone to engage in calm activities, such as reading or quiet play.
7:00pm Bath time and PJs: While giving your child a relaxing bath, use gentle reminders of what’s coming next. For example: “In two minutes we’ll get you out of the bath so you can brush your teeth,” and, “Once you’ve brushed your teeth we’ll put your pajamas on.” Try to avoid hurrying things along, and remember keep your tone calm.
7:45pm Bedtime: No negotiating! Bring your child to his or her room, keep the lights low and give your child the option of reading a story before you leave. When the story is done, give your child a kiss and a cuddle and leave the room when he or she is still awake!
Now that your children are in bed, it’s time for you to relax! Just remember that the two key points for success are consistency and reinforcement – stick to your routine and always always remember to reinforce your child for following it. After all, it is a fact that reinforcement increases behavior!