As much as parents may anticipate their childrens’ bedtime as a point in the day when they can finally enjoy some peace and quiet, there are those moms and dads who dread bedtime, which can be frustrating for even the most level-headed parents. Parents may face a host of issues at bedtime each night, but each requires patience and perseverance so bad behaviors can be broken once and for all.
What parent hasn’t experienced a child who is too excited to go to bed? Experts say that, depending on their age, children need 9 to 11 hours of sleep every night. Most children should be in bed by 8 p.m. to get the sleep their bodies need. If you miss the window of time to get them in bed, you may enter the overtired and wired period. A consistent bedtime and wake time can help set the pace for happy kids who are sleepy when they should be. Their bodies will adjust to the schedule, and over time they will involuntarily become tired when the time is right.
Children have many more toys and recreational activities at their disposal than their parents and grandparents did when they were children. The presence of these devices, including video game consoles and personal tablet computers, may not make for an ideal sleep environment. Sleep therapists advise that television watching and activities that engage the mind a good deal should be ceased prior to bed and replaced with more relaxing activities. This can include listening to soothing music or reading a few pages of a favorite story. Avoid activities that will increase energy levels, such as exercise or rough-housing, before bed.
The Bed Hog
There are plenty of parents who embrace the concept of the “family bed,” where everyone sleeps comfortably together. However, those who want their beds to be their private domain may be put off and disturbed by small feet kicking them in the night. But when faced with a midnight temper tantrum, many parents relent and let their child climb into their bed. This can cause a pattern of behavior that is difficult to break.
Sleep training involves getting toddlers or older children accustomed to sleeping in their own beds again. It may begin by a parent “camping out” in the child’s room to provide security. Over a period of days, the parent gradually moves closer to the door and then out of the room entirely once the child can comfortably sleep solo in his or her room. Initially, the process may be uncomfortable for kids and parents alike. But eventually it may solidify good sleeping habits.
A routine lets children known when it is time to go to sleep. Lacking a consistent schedule may not provide the physical cues that it is time to go to bed. Adhere to a routine each and every night so children become trained to go to bed at a particular time. This routine may include brushing teeth, picking out pajamas and then snuggling together for a few minutes. Children are creatures of habit, and knowing what to expect will help set them up for sleeping success.
Some parents cannot get a good night’s sleep because they worry about their children rising in the middle of the night and wandering the house unattended or even leaving the home. Childproofing the home can calm those concerns. Placing a secure gate at the doorway of the child’s room can limit roaming, while alarms placed on doors and windows can alert parents if a child is trying to open a window or exit the home.
Parents can take many steps to fix problematic bedtime behaviors and ensure the entire household gets the sleep they need.