In order for children to be healthy and reach their full potential, they need adequate sleep. Still, getting kids to hit the hay without a struggle can be one of the most trying tasks a parent faces. Children are highly skilled at pulling your heart strings, so learning the difference between what they want and what they actually need is a crucial element of mastering your parenting routine. Luckily, the same rules apply to bedtime rituals. With plenty of love and dedication, you’ll have your little one tucked in tight in a timely manner every night.
Set Rules and Stick to Them
If just getting your child into his pajamas is a battle of the wills each night, set rules and stick to your guns. Start a routine that lets him wind himself down. If he needs assistance getting into his pajamas, do so, then allow him some alone time to quietly play with his favorite toy, then have him pick out one or two books before settling in for a nightly bedtime story. Be sure that he understands that his alone time should also be the time for locating that favorite stuffed animal to snuggle at night, get a drink of water and use the bathroom one more time. If you aren’t clear about this, they may try and prolong bedtime by saying they need to find their teddy bear, that they’re thirsty or that they need to go potty again. Make sure that you don’t give into demands for “five more minutes” or tantrums that disrupt the routine; your child needs to know that the rules aren’t negotiable.
Show Plenty of Affection
Children need affection. They need to feel cared for and loved. Many times, kids will find ways of swindling a little extra snuggle time before bed. When devising your bedtime ritual, allow for enough quality time to cuddle and chat about the day. Read a story or two and just spend some quiet time together. By allowing time to connect with your child before she dozes off, it feeds the basic need of love. Sometimes, instead of a sip of water, what she really needs is a hug.
Children that are old enough to sleep in a big-kid bed need to learn how to soothe themselves back to sleep. If your child depends on external sources for comfort, such as music or lighting, they will need the same external comfort each time they wake up. If she doesn’t have access to the things she uses to comfort herself or if she relies upon you for soothing to sleep, she will almost certainly come looking for you in the night. If your child comes into your bedroom and co-sleeping is not an option in your family, don’t allow them to sleep with you. Though it may warm your heart, it will make it harder for you in the long term by destroying the level of consistency you’ve managed to achieve. There are many tactics in getting your child back into their own, bed but consistency is key. If they yell for you, go in to make sure there is no major issue. If everything checks out, calmly tell them it’s time to go to sleep. Once. If they keep getting out of bed, silently put them back into bed. Don’t verbally engage with the child. They will eventually retire because their efforts aren’t eliciting the response and attention they are seeking.
Be Dedicated to Making Bedtime Work
Parenting is hard work; worthwhile and fulfilling, but hard. Dedicating time and effort to your child’s bedtime routine will ensure that positive habits are instilled and they’re getting the sleep they need to thrive and learn. This will also deepen the bond you have with your child. Spending quality time with them each evening will create happy memories for both of you. It is a time to have soft conversations about the day, tell them how proud you are of them, how much you love them and give them undivided attention to allow them to open up and tell stories of their own or what they learned that day. Reading them their favorite stories will become a family tradition that they may pass on to their own children. Getting a routine set for sleep will turn bedtime battles into bedtime bliss.