Bedtime battles are a common issue among many parents with young children. However, putting your child to bed at night can become an enjoyable time where you can wind down and spend some quality time with your child. By following a few simple guidelines, the bedtime routine can turn into a more enjoyable experience for the whole family.
7 Tips for a Smooth Bedtime:
- Keep the Time for Bed Consistent, and Create a Nightly Routine to Follow – Children respond really well to routines, and it will help them learn what is expected each night. It will also make the whole bedtime process easier for everyone.
- Avoid the Use of Electronics the Last Hour Leading Up to Bedtime – Instead of your child playing video games or watching a movie, have her engage in more calming activities such as reading, coloring or taking a bath before bed.
- Gradually Transition Into Bedtime – Do not suddenly tell your child that it is time for bed. Instead, give warnings that bedtime is approaching starting about 45 minutes before she needs to be asleep, and then remind your child again 15 minutes before she needs to be asleep. Continue to give warnings right until it’s time for bed. If your child does not yet fully understand the concept of time, you can use a timer to help.
- Always Remain Firm but Calm – Never negotiate when you child does not want to go to bed, or if your child gets out of bed repeatedly. Calmly tell your child that it is time for sleep, and lead her back to her bed. In this situation, the less talking, the better.
- Adjust Nap Schedules if Necessary – If you notice that your child does not appear tired during her regular bedtime, consider adjusting her nap schedule or eliminating naps altogether.
- Give Your Child Choices During the Bedtime Routine – When children have choices, it gives them some degree of control. This sense of control is likely to make them more compliant. Examples of choices that can be given at bedtime include what books to read, which pajamas to wear, or how many stuffed animals to keep in bed.
- Teach Your Child to Fall Asleep Alone in Her Own Bed -These are good skills to teach at an early age. If your child begins to fall asleep only when a parent is in the room, or only when she is in her parent’s bed, this can become a habit that is difficult to break. Teaching independent sleep early will help alleviate many future bedtime struggles.
Click here for advice on how to deal with night terrors. For more information on healthy sleep habits, contact our behavior therapy team.