Every parent has endured the struggle of attempting to put a fussy baby or toddler to bed. The battle can be frustrating, to say the least, but it doesn’t have to be. Make your bedtime routine go more smoothly with the following tips.
Hold fast to the “routine” part of your bedtime routine. As adults, we sometimes view habitual behavior negatively and associate it with monotony. However, children experience plenty of change and exhilaration throughout their day. The last thing they need in the evening is more excitement to rile them up. Young children thrive in environments where habits are a staple, especially at night. If you continually communicate and model a particular set of expectations, your little ones will rise to the occasion and strengthen their independence. Ensure that bedtime is the same time every night, including weekends. Keep your routine steps in order, and don’t let one off-track night become a permanent change.
Imagine trying to fall asleep with your heart racing, breathing heavy and adrenaline surging. That sounds like a difficult task, right? Well, your children would agree with you. One of the best choices you can make as a parent is setting the tone for what’s to come. To sleep peacefully, three things are required: Quiet, darkness and stillness. If those are the important elements that help your children stay asleep, it’s your job to implement those elements in preparation for going to sleep. Enforce this by using a soft voice, dimming the lights and using calming techniques.
You know what’s best for your child and have made many purposeful choices for their health, safety and happiness. Even regarding bedtime, you’ve picked a particular time and organized a specific routine based on your expertise on how to meet their needs. Children, on the other hand, are sometimes too young to appreciate the thought and intent you’ve put into the choices you’ve made. Consequently, they feel they are being told what to do, how to do it and when to do it, which sometimes upsets them. The compromise lies in providing a bit of choice. For every required step, include a choice that your child can make to help them feel included. The easiest way to find a happy medium is by allowing your child to pick between two choices. The provided choices should be should be minor enough to avoid consequence. For example, allow your child to choose between two: sets of pajamas, flavors of toothpaste or nighttime stories.
Bedtime can cause a range of emotions for children; especially the younger ones. Some kids are afraid of the dark, some have anxiety about sleeping alone and others get angry about needing to go to bed at all. Although these emotions can be a source of tension during your nightly routine, it’s important to stress that you do care about helping them be as comfortable as possible. Remember that comfort doesn’t necessarily mean an abandonment of rule. It simply means do what you can to ease those negative emotions. Many parents choose to soothe their kids with a bedtime song, a short book or an affectionate goodnight cuddle. Whatever it is that helps your child feel at peace before slipping into slumber is a perfect addition to the success of your bedtime routine.
The last “C” is the easiest. Set a timer, mental or physical, to guarantee that bedtime doesn’t turn into a long, drawn out event. A good bedtime routine should take no more than 30 minutes from start to finish. If you and your little one have just begun implementing a new routine, it’s completely normal to take a bit longer while both parties are adjusting. If your routine is still taking extra time after a few weeks of trying it, consider revising your steps to be more efficient.
Help your child start to enjoy bedtime. With a lot of patience and a healthy dose of routine, your kids will be on the right track. Follow these five C’s and watch success unfold!