Do you often face a struggle getting your children to willingly go to bed?

It is obvious that they’re tired and ready for sleep but no matter what you try, they refuse to go quietly! In my experience, for many parents this becomes a daily ritual that they dread with the only solution being to carry them to bed screaming!

Let’s face it, they are not in the space to reason with or listen to you.

Children don’t want to miss out on the action and will find many excuses to stay up such as to keep playing with that special toy or watch their favourite video. So how do you handle that over tired child who refuses to go to sleep?

Over the years, I have often come across children who play up when it comes to sleep time and here are some tips that have worked for me.

  1. As the evening approaches, slow them down, encouraging them to do less vigorous activities.
  2. Give them a countdown about 30 minutes before bedtime and give them periodic updates so they are better prepared, for example 15 minutes, left 10 minutes, 5 minutes. It may help to put on some relaxing music during the countdown and involve them in the selection. I suggest that the music is only played for that purpose.
  3. Give them some special time to be with you where they can tell you about their day, whilst changing into pyjamas or getting their bath ready.
  4. During bathtime, give them time to relax in the bath and play/splash. Relaxing music is a great way to relax them whilst they are having a bath but please ensure that you choose different music from the countdown music suggested earlier.
  5. Let them have fun whilst you prepare their dinner or get their things ready for the next day, whilst keeping a watchful eye on them.
  6. Help them to choose a book that they would like to have read to them as their bedtime story.
  7. Talk to them in bed for a few minutes before you turn out the light. This could be about their plans for the next day for example. Please always remember to keep any promises that you make since they will remember.

Experimentation is always an excellent idea and if you stick to it, you’ll find a mix that works well for both parent and child. It is important to stick to this routine and you will find that it makes the transition from play to bed more manageable.

If your children continue to find it difficult at bedtime, suggest to them that you help them put things away so that they will be there for them in the morning. Being firm but gentle is a better approach and I feel that being proactive is better than reactive when faced with a temper tantrum or tears.

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Filed under: Parenting Tips

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