We all know that most kids hate going to sleep at night. Why does it bother them so much? After all, we enjoy sleeping when we get a chance, right? I actually know why and I’ll reveal it at the end of this article but for now, just read the steps and see if this is something you would want to try in order to speed things up at night.
Most parents these days know they have to have a solid bedtime routine in order to help their children sleep. But what happens when the routine that helped so much at first starts to take longer and longer? Do you feel like maybe you should start the bedtime routine immediately after dinner?
Nobody really enjoys the routine anymore when it becomes a struggle from beginning to end. What’s a caring parent to do?
I’ve seen this situation many times over 38 years of nurturing young children and their families. Especially when parents work hard and everyone is overtired and possibly anxious. But even in the most relaxed and happy families, the problem persists.
I want to give you some real simple, do-able ideas that can rev up your child’s bedtime routine the very first time you try them. But you have to follow all of my directions in order for it to work.
First, you have to plan this thing well. Make sure they’re not overtired and wired for this because it works better when they're not. Then you have to talk to them about it ahead of time. And be sure that you're willing to follow through with the plan before you even start because that’s the only way it’s going to work.
Tell them that bedtime is eating away at their precious evening playtime. And you’re going to help them make it shorter and more fun, starting tonight. What child doesn’t value their playtime? I’d recommend saying this to them at dinnertime and once more 5-15 minutes before the routine starts.
You have to do some planning as to how long you want this bedtime routine thing to last. You’re the only who really knows what you want so try to make it good for you and realistic for your child. And break it down. 5 minutes for brushing teeth, perhaps, and 5 for getting into PJ’s. Add a bath if you want but give it a time limit that you can live with.
Once you’ve done that, I want you to relax with your kids in your customary way until you remind them about the bedtime changes. These are going to be good changes for everyone involved so it can be a matter of fact foreshadowing of things to come.
Now comes the hard part, sticking to the plan! I’m going to teach you how to enlist your child’s help in the matter of moving things along. I’m also going to use bedtime stories and up to 10 minutes of increased storytime so be sure to include that time in your plan. You can use books, live stories or even lay down time if that’s what you want to do but you need something they want in order for this to work well. And believe me, you can’t use screen time for this one.
You'll need a timer of some kind. Maybe you have one on your phone. Try to pick something with a pleasant tone like chimes or water falling since you’ll be helping your child learn to manage time with it and it can be pleasant and fun.
Tell them how long they have until they have to be in bed. And that they will be allowed extra reading time if they make it in by that time. Then break it down for them.
You’ve already figured this out so set your timer for their first task. Let them earn a story or a three minute increment of reading time for each of three tasks. It shouldn’t be hard on them to do it, just think about how long it would take if they concentrated and didn’t get distracted too much or play around too much.
Then set your timer and see if they can do it. You can use verbal prompts. If they make their time limit for the first task, they earn an extra 3 minute story. If they don’t, they still get their usual story.
Still getting their regular story is key to making this work. Otherwise you're punishing with stories instead of rewarding with stories. And by the way, if you don’t read at least one story to your child at bedtime, now is a great time to start.
Let them earn up to 9 minutes of extra reading time or less if you want. You can easily do this if the rest of their bedtime is reduced to 10 or fifteen minutes, a bit longer if they bathe. Make this work to your advantage. They can probably go a lot faster than you thought if they have a goal to work for.
Always remember that you control the timer so you're ultimately in control of the situation. Believe me, it's the only way to be at bedtime. But you’re doing the right thing by teaching them how to manage their time in order to earn more of what they really want. Your loving attention.
Here’s a recap of the steps you’ll need to take.
1. explain at dinnertime
2. Give them a 25 and a 5 minute warning when bedtime is about to begin
3. Use the timer to move them along allowing them to earn one 3 minute story for each task they complete before the timer rings. You hold the timer
4. Read them their usual stories plus the stories they earned
5. Note how good it feels to have control and yet to give up some in order to teach them more!
So that’s it. Make sure to leave a comment below if you have any questions or you just want to talk about it.
Now here’s the reason that children don’t want to go to bed at night.
Children want to stay up and play because that’s the way they learn and as human beings, we're programed to learn. Yet they haven’t learned how to read their body signals to slow down. They sometimes run on overdrive which is not good for themexcept on a rare occasion. They need us to help them learn to listen to their bodies.
But the key thing is that they just want to learn and they learn through play and from interacting with you so it’s natural that they don’t want to stop. It's up to us to teach them how to slow down and take breaks. That means we have to set a good example and take breaks ourselves.
If your body isn’t relaxed, it’s almost impossible for your brain to relax. Here are a few more key tips for sleep.
1. Play hard outside in the morning everyday.
2. Give naps if your kids are 4 and under. They'll sleep better at night if you do because they won't be overtired
3. Try yoga or progressive relaxation exercises as a family.
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