How do I get my child to go to bed on time? Here are a few tips to help you out:
Have a regular bedtime routine. Kids love routine and thrive on it. If they know what to expect and when, they are at their happiest. Create a bedtime ritual for them. Perhaps it is dinner, followed by a bath, a few minutes reading a book, brush teeth then lights out?
Create the routine that works best for you, then stick to it as much as possible. Then the child will know exactly what is expected of them.. If your child is young, you can even draw a chart and put it on the wall so they can see what is next. They might even like to help create the wall chart with you. If they participate in it, they are much more likely to abide by it. Your child will feel happier if you stick to your routine and don’t go back on your word. Even though they often fight back, they really want to know that we are the boss.
Understand that bedtime is important. If you doubt what you are doing, you are more likely to be lenient and bend the rules. Kids not only need consistency, they also need enough sleep. If they don’t get it they will be grumpy the next day. You do them no favours by being lenient at bedtime. A regular bedtime actually helps your child’s brain development. You can explain to your child that you need mummy and daddy time now and a rest so you can be a good parent tomorrow.
Be authoritative with your words. Avoid giving commands that seem weak, for example “Can you please get into your pyjamas now?” That question has two possible answers, yes and no. We want them to do the right thing so perhaps you could say, “OK, it’s time to put our pyjamas on now.” I recommend using a statement rather than a question.
Avoid final curtain calls. Easier said than done, right? Remember how I said you can create a bedtime chart with your child? Because they have had input into the chart, they are much more likely to comply with it. So, get your child involved in making a bedtime ritual with you. Allow them to have some input, but you ultimately decide on what is best for them. If they continue popping out of bed, you could ask them what they would like done to help them stay in bed. Again, if the child has some input, they are more likely to comply. Maybe they need a night light in their bedroom? Perhaps they need a glass of water beside their bed? Communicate with them and they will share their concerns. Then listen to them and help alleviate those concerns.
Make sure your child knows the rules – once they are in bed, they have to stay in bed. Let them know your expectations. My boys would have endless curtain calls at night, until I started to make my expectations very clear. They kept on saying to me “But I’m not tired”. I said to them “OK boys, in bed you can do anything you want to do. I just have two rules. Lie in your own bed quietly and keep your eyes shut”.
There wasn’t much my boys could do in bed with their eyes and mouth shut except get bored and eventually fall asleep. Ultimately, each parent will find something that works well for them. Then they should do it consistently.
For those of you who are interested in a bed time CD that will transform your child’s behaviour while they sleep, here is the link to it on my shop page: