Most parents of young children can relate to this scenario: Dinner is over, the kitchen has been cleaned up, and you and the kids have a little time to relax before bedtime. But soon, you’ll have to start getting the kids ready for bed – and your body starts to tense up in anticipation of the battle that you will be facing momentarily.
“No! I don’t want to go to bed! I’m not tired!
Aargh. Of course. What had been a pleasant evening ends once again in a final struggle.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. By following these tips, you can have a better chance of making bedtime easier and more pleasant for your child and yourself:
- Set consistent bedtimes. Structure and repetition make kids feel safe. Plus, once your child knows what time is bedtime, you’re no longer the “bad guy” – the clock is. Consistent bedtimes also make mornings easier.
- Have a bedtime routine. Children like to know what to expect. Going through the motions of taking a bath, brushing their teeth, putting on their pajamas and being read a story signals to your child’s brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Avoid caffeine. Of course your child doesn’t drink coffee, but watch the hidden caffeine in soda and chocolate.
- Create an environment that’s conducive to sleep. Control the lighting and sound. Dark, quiet rooms are less distracting so it’s easier to fall asleep.
- Set a good example yourself. If you fall asleep on the couch instead of your bed, why should your children sleep in their beds?
- Use a night-light. If your child is afraid of the dark, a night-light can help without providing too much light.
- Have a designated bedtime lovey. Let your child cuddle a favorite stuffed animal or blanket that they get access to only at bedtime.
- Hey, keep it down out there! If the TV volume is too high, or you talk or laugh loudly, your child will be curious and want to join you. So, shhhhh.
- Use monster spray. If your child is afraid of bad guys under the bed or in the closet, fill a spray bottle with water and use it to provide preventative protection.
- Make bedtime special. The more pleasant bedtime is, the less your child will resist it.
If getting your children to go to bed is still a major effort, remember this: In the blink of an eye, your little ones will grow up to be teenagers who’ll never want to get out of bed. Enjoy their childhood as much as you possibly can!