One of the most important things you can do as a parent it to give your kids routine, and that also includes a consistent bedtime. It needs to be set in stone. Of course, there are always exceptions, if you are travelling, on holidays, or away from your home, it might change. But when and if you are at home, then bedtime should ALWAYS be at the same time, no matter what.
Kids get tired. Their little brains are exhausted. You are exhausted. They need to be put to bed, and put to bed on time. I can’t stress this enough. It doesn’t matter what time they wake up in the morning, get them into bed ON TIME every single night.
PLAN YOUR CHILD’S BEDTIME ROUTINE
All you have to do is plan for it. Yes, you can plan and be organized about a bedtime routine. Depending on the age of your child, a usual bedtime routine is:
CHILDREN CANNOT REASON
What parents need to remember is that kids cannot reason. You cannot expect them to act like adults. You cannot simply tell your child to get into bed. Of course they are not going to get into bed on their own, even if they are tired. They are going to find something else to play with, run away, hide somewhere, or sneak somewhere where you can’t see them. You can’t just TELL them to go to bed, you have to TAKE them to bed yourself.
No child will every go willingly to bed – ever. Seriously. Unless you threaten them, which is wrong by the way. Help your child understand their need for sleep, and help them to understand that bedtime is not a punishment. Bedtime shouldn’t be a struggle. If you have been lax in this area of bedtime, and bedtime routines, now is the time to change. I guarantee it will change your life.
PARENTS: YOU ARE THE BOSS
Please remember that you are the boss. Not your child. Just because he/she doesn’t want to go to bed doesn’t mean you have to cave if they have a temper tantrum. If they keep coming out of their room, give them a warning of what will happen if they come out again. It’s up to you to pick what discipline you want (ie: spanking, loss of privileges, etc) but make sure that they understand what it is. And if they disobey you? Always follow through with your word.
Your child will easily learn that you are a pushover if you constantly cave into their demands, simply because they are whining and throwing a fuss. Do NOT allow that behavior! Let me re-state that. They will act like that, but what you are going to do is reinforce that that behavior is unacceptable.
I have seen families that do not put their kids to bed, the kid runs around and stays up until the parent goes to bed, and their child is a mess the next day. They are tired, grumpy, and not able to handle things very well. It’s a fight about everything, and all that is needed to fix it is a good night’s sleep.
YOU ARE NOT PARENTING BY LETTING YOUR KIDS STAY UP BAST THEIR BEDTIME
I have also seen parents allow their child to keep getting up, saying they are not tired. I’ve been company at someone else’s house, where I witnessed them letting their three year old out of bed, and let her stay up past 11:00 P.M. That’s craziness! You’re doing your child and yourself a huge disservice. Show some backbone parents, and be the boss. It’s YOU who tells your child what to do, not your child who is defying you.
HOW MUCH SLEEP DO KIDS NEED
Children need at least 12-14 hours of uninterrupted sleep, including naps. Here is a chart below:
You can gage whether or not your child needs to go to bed earlier, or later, depending on how they act during the day. You are the one who knows your child best, so below is a guideline only. If you do put them to bed early, they benefit, so don’t think you’re being a bad parent by shuffling them off to bed so you can enjoy your evening. All you need to do is be CONSISTENT, and don’t make going to bed a punishment. Here is a guideline, but remember, you CAN put them to bed earlier!
PROPER BEDTIME FOR KIDS
What really worked for me, is that I made a clock face out of cardboard, and painted on my son’s bedtime (at the time it was 7:00 p.m.) I hung it up in his room, and he knew that when his bedroom clock matched his bedtime clock, he had to go to bed.
CHILDREN NEED A BEDTIME WARNING
Kids do not like to be interrupted. You cannot suddenly say, “it’s bedtime, let’s go!” They are going to howl, kick, scream, and protest. Children need a warning. This is for all kids, trust me. It’s very rare you’ll get an obedient child that does what you say the minute you say it. Young children cannot reason, and so all they think is that you are taking away their fun. It’s nothing to do with trying to disobey you, they truly are upset because you’ve just interrupted them. Imagine yourself watching a TV, or reading a book and someone comes up to you and says “time to go to bed right now!” Yup, I can imagine the look you would give them, or what you might say. You’d be annoyed that you were interrupted. Kids need to be told what to do, but as adults, we don’t need to be told to go to bed anymore. The point is – no-one likes to be interrupted, so have some understanding what you do to your child if you don’t give them a warning.
Which is the point of my next statement – you NEED to give your child a bedtime is approaching warning. We always gave my son a 30 minute warning. When he was playing, we would tell him, “bedtime is in 30 more minutes!” and we would show him the clock. He would look at it, and say, “okay mommy”.
Then, when it was down to 15 minutes left, we would give another warning he only had fifteen minutes. Sometimes he would go check the clock, sometimes he wouldn’t.
The final warning was 5 minutes. We had also set an egg timer that went off at 7:00 on the dot. My son would then hear the timer, and then he would stop what he was doing and yell, “bedtime!” It worked like a charm every single night. Then we would go have a bath, book, tuck into bed, pray, and then kiss goodnight.
ALWAYS CLOSE THE BEDROOM DOOR
I wrote down earlier to close the door. You need to close the door, no matter how much they protest. It is for safety. If there ever was a fire, an open door is an invitation to burn everything quickly. Your child can protest all they want, but tell them exactly why it needs to be shut – they need to stay SAFE in case there ever was a fire. If they understand and have a reason why, most kids will accept it. Doesn’t matter if they cry or fuss. Get them a night light or whatever they need, but keep that door closed.
Once you establish your own bedtime routine, your kids won’t fight you anymore. They will go willingly, because they feel comfort in the routine. They know they are not in trouble. They know you are not mad at them. They know this is what happens at night time.
KIDS 6 AND UNDER NEED NAPS – EVERY DAY
Nap times are important too. Until your child is seven, I would suggest giving them a nap every day.
I explained to my son that he wasn’t in trouble, but a nap was for his body – so that it could repair itself. My son’s cheeks would always go a bright pink, and I made him go into the bathroom and look. I told him that his body was showing that he was tired, and so he needed to have a nap to fix it. Often times my son would come and tell me, “I need a nap, my cheeks are pink!” He understood the concept.
Often times when I tucked him down for a nap, he would say to me, “I’m not in trouble, I just need some rest for my body”. And I agreed with him, and he always settled down. ALWAYS! He wouldn’t always fall asleep, and I told him it was okay, but he needed to just lay on his bed and wait till nap time was over.
STOP FIGHTING WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT NAPS AND BEDTIME
If you have been fighting with your kids about bedtime, you need to organize a routine right now. Do the same thing every night, at the same time.
Be firm with your child, and if they fuss, remind them why it’s time to go to bed. Remember that they can’t reason, so don’t try to argue with your child. It just doesn’t work. Don’t tell them they have to go to bed because mummy and daddy are tired, tell them they have to go to bed because their bodies are like flashlight batteries, and they need to recharge. Tell them their bed is a recharging station, so that they will have full energy in the morning to play all over again. Or – you can make up whatever analogy that works for you, so that they understand why they need to go to bed when you say so.
TAKE BACK YOUR NIGHTS
Take back your nights, take back your authority, and PUT YOUR CHILDREN to bed with a regular routine!