Zoodles Blog Learn and Play Every Day

November 19, 2009

My kids won’t go to bed!

Filed under: Family Activities — Erin @ 4:10 pm

SleepBedtime routines are a tricky business.  They’re time-consuming, they’re sensitive to change, they’re hard to implement, and even harder to undo.  But scientific research shows that without them, kids have a tougher time sleeping through the night, or won’t fall asleep at all, or even if they do, it’s only after a frustrating bout of resistance that puts you in a bad mood for your bedtime.  After doing a little in-house research with the parents and babysitters among us, along with some mom blog and child psychology perusal, we’ve collected these tips from the battlefront:

Use the day as your ally.

Keeping the nighttime disasters down to a minimum actually depends a lot on how you schedule your child’s day.  Make sure your kids have plenty of time to run around and expend their energy.  If an afternoon nap is part of the lineup, make sure to follow it with some physical activity before dinner.

Master the after-dinner wind-down.

Many parents view the time after dinner as their best chance at having a peaceful rest of the night.  Watching a favorite DVD or playing quietly with toys is often slotted here, as neither requires much supervision, and both give parents a much needed period to relax and clean up after dinner.  This is also the time many parents have told us they use Zoodles.  With the added benefit that it’s educational, Zoodles gives parents a painless way to slow kids down and keep them quietly entertained at the same time.

Moshi-IVR-Digital-alarm-clockRemember, timing is everything.

The bedtime routine should start at the same time every night, approximately half an hour before you’d like your child to fall asleep.  Take into account that children need anywhere between 11 and 12 hours of sleep a night!

Give plenty of fair warning.

Nothing’s worse than being interrupted in the middle of a game!  Give a half hour warning before the start of the bedtime routine, and then a 20 minute, 10 minute, and 5 minute warning.  This gives your child plenty of time to adjust to the idea of sleeping.

It’s never too late to start.

Sure, old habits die hard, but it’s never too late to introduce a bedtime routine to an otherwise unruly night.  If your child’s gotten used to falling asleep at 10 (or later!), and you’d like to scale that back to an earlier hour, introduce the routine by starting off at 9:30.  Stick to that start time for a full week while your child adjusts to the new world order.  The next week, move the bedtime routine ten minutes earlier.  Rinse and repeat until your bedtime routine is starting at 7:30, and your child’s droppin zZz’s by 8.

baby-bathroom-safety-bath-towel-207x300Choose your activities carefully.

Consistency is king, so make sure and choose activities that you’d be happy to do hundreds of thousands of times, night after night, year after year.   Some of the most popular ways to wind down?  Take a warm bath, change into PJ’s, brush teeth, comb hair, read a book together, sing a lullaby.  What all these things have in common is that they keep your child’s volume and energy low.

Keep it the same, every time!

Aside from the occasional trip to the movies or the late night out for Thanksgiving dinner, keep your regimen of bedtime activities consistent.  Don’t add, remove, or switch things around!  This includes special snuggle sessions and extended trips to Mom and Dad’s bed, even if it’s just “five more minutes!”  Your child will start to derive massive amounts of comfort from the regularity of your schedule together.

No negotiating, ever.

Nobody knows this better than you – some nights, no matter how hard you try, or how smoothly things run, they just- won’t- go.  The offending tactics are all over the spectrum.  Some little ones will tiptoe out and wander around in the hall, others will simply kick and scream in your arms, and many a devious child will flip the lights back on as soon as you shut the door.  Nestor Lopez-Duran, PhD from Child Psychology Research advises parents to be firm and repeat the phrase “It’s time to sleep,” without qualifying the statement or entering into a negotiable conversation.  Guide them back to bed every time, for as many times as it takes.

photo: GettyThis was the advice that we found, but there are bound to be things we missed.  The important thing is to find what works for you.  Take it from us, it’s a worthwhile investment.  Without a bedtime routine, you’ll be fighting a war that’s hard to win… at least until they hit their teens, when your new daily struggle will be getting them out of bed.  :)

Jodi A. Mindell, Lorena S. Telofski, Benjamin Wiegand, & Ellen S. Kurtz (2009). A Nightly Bedtime Routine: Impact on Sleep in Young Children and Maternal Mood Sleep, 32 (5), 599-606
Be Sociable, Share!

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress