||1. Establish a definite
bedtime. With younger children inform them of your decision and
stick to it. Children can feel empowered if given a choice from
which they can choose. "You can choose either 7:15pm or 7:30pm
as your bedtime." With older kids, give them the opportunity to
stay up later on Fridays and Saturdays. Also it is important
that children recognize that adults need time alone together.
Teens, for example, may set their own time to go to sleep, but
they need to go to their rooms to read or study after 9:00pm in
order for parents to have some "adult-time."
2. Develop a consistent routine. Children who have a set of
bedtime activities adapt better. From getting bedclothes on, to
washing face and teeth, to having water by the bed, to that
all-important bedtime story. Try to set up a routine that you
and the kids follow every night.
3. Prepare for bedtime by giving notice. "It's 7 o'clock, bed
time is in an hour." By announcing in advance their bedtime,
children begin to mentally prepare for the change and are more
receptive to shifting their focus from other activities.
4. Younger children often feel having a doll, stuffed animal or
special blanket helps them to transition to sleep time more
securely. Such an object for the child symbolically reminds them
of their parents and helps that time alone to feel safer and
5. Don't force kids to go to sleep. It is better to help
children to listen to their own internal clock, to recognize
their own feelings of fatigue. Rather, define bedtime as the
time of night you go to your room and prepare for sleep with a
story or reading to yourself. Some children relax if there is a
radio playing soothing music. After a full day, most children
will fall asleep naturally as soon as they slow things down.
6. Avoid power struggles and manipulations. As parents we
forget that our attention is often what keeps problems
occurring. If children act-out to keep us involved at bedtime,
take charge of what you choose to give your attention to and
ignore behaviors that are inappropriate or just attention
getting. Stay calm, give clear and concise directions and while
being sensitive remain firm and consistent.
7. Finally, plan your time around the children's bedtime.
Don't count on watching your favorite TV program during the
bedtime routine. The kid's bedtime is not the time to do the
dishes or work on that unfinished project. Focus on the
children, help them to get ready and give them a few minutes of
quality time. Bedtime can be one of the few times in the day
when a parent can really connect emotionally with their child
and a child can feel close to the parents.