Oh, the struggles with bedtime! Whether your kids are 3 or 13, the bedtime struggles can be exhausting. They resist sleeping at night, and then you can’t get them up in the morning. Kids need restful sleep and a consistent bedtime routine to ensure they’re getting proper rest. Here are four ways to make your kids respect bedtime.
#1 Be Consistent
Set your child’s bedtime and make every effort to keep that schedule – even on the weekends. Kids’ sleep requirements do not change on Saturday and Sunday. Letting them completely blow the routine leads to more trouble than it’s worth come Monday morning. If bedtime is at 8pm, that means “lights out” and time to sleep. You can adjust bedtime as they get older, but you’re still aiming for 9-11 hours of restful sleep every night to ensure optimal performance in activities during the day. Concentration, physical fatigue and mood are all affected adversely by poor sleep.
#2 Create a Routine
Especially for younger kids, a night time routine for bedtime is important for getting them ready to sleep and ensuring they will have a restful night. Most parents adopt a “bath-brush-teeth-story-bedtime” routine and try to do things – in order – at the same time every night. Subconsciously, your kids are winding down in anticipation of sleep time and the routine just enforces that. Plus, routines are just good in general for kids, from homework schedules to chores around the house. Routines create habits and healthy habits will benefit them for life.
#3 Reduce Screen Time
At least an hour before bed time, eliminate television, tablet and phone use as much as possible. These media devices stimulate brain activity and can make it difficult for your kids to unwind. Playing video games generally stimulates the mind, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do heading toward bedtime. Also, as a general rule, these devices should not be in your child’s room. They will invariably interfere with sleep. While it’s tempting to put on a movie and let the kids watch in bed, it’s generally not a good idea for building good sleep habits.
#4 Eliminate Excuses
Before your kids head up to bed, eliminate the excuses they’ll have for getting up again. Make sure they’ve used the restroom, and they’ve had a drink of water, and they’ve got their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. When you eliminate excuses for getting up after going to bed, your kids will respect bedtime and not try to create reasons to avoid going to bed.
Solid sleep habits are very important to kids and something they’ll take into adulthood and for the rest of their lives. Helping them develop healthy routines around sleep is just as important as diet and exercise for their overall well-being. These 4 ways to make your kids respect bedtime are a great start; however, if your kids are not sleeping well despite your best efforts, it’s worth a discussion with your pediatrician to discuss other options.