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Five Surefire Ways to Get Your Child to Go to Bed

By Toby Haberkorn

As parents and grandparents, we all understand the importance of bedtime.  Many of us have a Sophie or an Ethan who tries to postpone bedtime for as long as possible.  Bedtime becomes a nightly battle.  Even if Sophie goes to bed, she does not remain in her bed. Sophie has all sorts of reasons for not staying in bed--- worries, unable to sleep, thirsty, need to go to the bathroom etc. The end result of this situation is a grumpy child and grumpy parents.  We all deserve a peaceful bedtime.  

Every night, at the same time,  have Sophie get ready for bed by taking a bath or shower, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth and combing hair.  Develop a check off list which Sophie completes after each bedtime activity.  Sophie, like all children, wants predictability and bedtime routines help her feel secure.

  1. Getting Ready for Bedtime---wrap up activities

    Every evening, start a forty five minutes countdown before bedtime. Set a timer in 15 minute increments, giving Sophie time to wrap up activities.  

  2. Not Tired-a bit of physical activity

    If Sophie does not get enough physical activity, select a YouTube kid's dance video or buy one. Sophie will love dancing/ exercising to the video for five, fun filled minutes. 

    Then help her cool down with a deep breathing exercise.  Teach your child to take a deep breath.  Hold for 5-10 seconds. Release slowly.  Repeat deep breathing 7 times

  3. Next Day Preparation-responsibilities 

    Before going to bed, get Sophie involved in learning about the weather and what's appropriate for her planned activities before she decides what to wear and lays out clothes for the next day. 

  4. Sleep Time---bedroom environment  

    Temperature is cool.  Sophie's bedroom is dark and all electronic devices are turned off.   She loves wearing cozy socks on cold nights.  Sophie knows that a dark, quiet bedroom means time to go to sleep.

  5. Good Night - security   

    You spend quiet time (5 to 10 minutes) with Sophie talking about whatever is on her mind before you read her a story.  Right before lights are turned off,  give Sophie a paper or an electronic calendar to cross off t each  completed day.   

Start a family tradition by ending each day with the same special goodnight saying.  Make up your own saying or find one that's right for your child.  A Charlie Brown quote is always worth considering. "Day is over, night has come.  Today is gone, what's done is done. Embrace your dream through the night. Tomorrow comes with a whole new light!"  Someday, Sophie may remember this tradition and repeat it with her children.  

Give Sophie a big hug and wish her goodnight!

Remember it takes months for habits to form, so be prepared to work with your child until her bedtime routine is unquestioned. May you and your Sophie or Ethan dream sweet dreams and enjoy a good night's sleep!

Toby Haberkorn has enjoyed a varied career and now pursues her passion for writing books that promote family discussions about difficult issues. She is the author of two books. "When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child's Perspective on Dementia" explores the bittersweet changing relationship between a young granddaughter and her grandmother who has dementia. This book is posted on the Children's Resource Book list on the National Alzheimer's Association and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Aging web sites.  "Bye-Bye Moon" is a bedtime story which delights children who fuss about going to bed and the parents who tuck them in. Permission granted for use on 
Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Motherhood-Fatherhood, Parenting, Personal Responsibility, Tips
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