All children need a good night’s sleep. Being overly tired is detrimental to their growth, health, learning and relationships. How do you establish a healthy bedtime routine without it becoming a battleground? This is a problem that most parents are familiar with.
Consistency is important. Build a routine for your children and stick to it. Make sure their kindergarten or school bags are packed early in the evening. Start their bedtime routine at the same time each day. As part of their development, toddlers will try to push the boundaries. However, it is important that you remain firm. Be calm and gentle but be strict about their bedtime. Ultimately they will feel safer knowing their limits and that you are in control.
Allow Them To Wind Down
About an hour before their bedtime routine, encourage quieter activities. Foster a calm, peaceful atmosphere and allow them to wind down naturally. If they’re still excited and active, draw their attention to different activities such as reading, coloring or a puzzle. Speak quietly to reiterate that this is ‘quiet time’.
During this period of ‘quiet play’ remind them that bedtime is in half an hour, so they know what to expect. Remind them again when they have five minutes left. As part of their daily routine, help them to put away their toys. Praise them when they do this by themselves.
Work Through The Routine
When it’s time for bed, remind them gently and start to work through their routine. Run a bath or add some water to the sink for washing. Remind them at each stage what is coming next. In five minutes we’re going to brush your teeth and comb your hair. In a minute, we’re going to put on your panda pyjamas and read a story. Involve them in the process by asking what story they prefer. Or perhaps, which pyjamas they would like to wear.
Create A Calm And Safe Environment
Create a calm and peaceful bedroom for your child. Try to make it a fun place where they like to spend time. Check out these beautiful toddler beds from Cuckooland.com.
Dim the lights if possible. If your child is afraid of the dark, then opt for a nightlight or keep the landing light on. Read our article on how to help your kids love their bedrooms.
When your child is in bed, continue with their routine. You could read to them or talk to them about their day. Remind them how much time they have for stories before they must go to sleep. Encourage them to close their eyes as you’re reading.
Children of Different Ages
If you have children of different ages, try to stagger their bedtimes. This will allow you to spend some personal time with each of them. Go through a similar routine with each child and adapt it as they get older.
Bedtimes will always be tricky and children will make their objections known. Remaining calm and firm and being consistent will help them adjust. As they become used to the routine, their objections will decrease.