How to Avoid Bedtime Battles
How do you avoid the nightly bedtime battle? How do you get your children to go to bed, stay in bed and go to sleep peacefully? The best answer is to find a bedtime routine that works for you and your child. Here are some tips used by parents who have won the battle and found peace in the home. I’ve included links to parent-approved products.
1. Create a relaxing environment. If you get stressed, so will your child. Instead, dim the lights or use nightlights, and play relaxation music designed for the age group of your child. If possible only place the speakers in the child’s room, with the player in a hall closet. This will prevent the child from wanting to tinker with the volume and other buttons. This product is popular with parents: Indigo Ocean Dreams: 4 Children’s Stories Designed to Decrease Stress, Anger and Anxiety while Increasing Self-Esteem and Self-Awareness
2. Use visual distractions. Purchase a nightlight projector that displays the stars, fish or other objects on the ceiling. Most range from $8 up. In conjunction with relaxation music, this can be very effective. Here is a popular product: LED Projectables Nightlight with Globe Projector
3. Forcing horizontal. Most parents say to relieve the child of game controllers, phones and electronics before bedtime. This is probably wise. At the same time, getting the kid horizontal is the goal. Place a small TV or iPad at 90 degrees (on an arm) next to the bed.
Play short, bedtime stories such as: Treasury of Classic Bedtime Stories read by James Earl Jones
Here is a durable, kid-friendly arm: ERGOTRON LCD ARM
4. BRB – Periodic check ins. If your child is afraid of being alone, set a timer in a nearby room. Tell them that when the timer goes off you will come check on them and their eyes must be closed. Make sure the timer sound isn’t loud enough to wake them but near enough that they can listen for it (optional). Choose realistic intervals and keep the check ins to a minimum. Important! Do not say a word during check ins. Engaging in conversation is a delay tactic which will work against you. A cheap kitchen timer should be perfect for this tactic: Lux Classic Timer
5. Nix the noon naps. I included this one because some parents say it worked for them. However, doctors warn that once a child is overtired, a stress hormone called cortisol is released, making it difficult for the child to settle down.
6. Stock the nightstand. Before bed, gather all the things they will want after the lights go out, and place them on or near the nightstand. One optional thing to place on the table is a coin with which they may use to trade for ONE last thing to be added to the table ‘right now’ or else it can go in the piggy bank. Explain that everything they may want is sitting right here on the table and they are not to get up or ask for anything else.
7. Make it dark. If it’s still light at bedtime where you live, make sure you have blackout curtains or shades so the room can be dark. If your child is afraid of the dark, at least block the natural light from the windows first, then turn on a night light. Don’t sacrifice the drapes you have now. Try a blackout liner instead: Redmon Nighttime Blackout Drapery Liner
8. This or that. Give them choices but not open-ended ones such as “What do you want?” Give them two options with each question, “Do you want this book or that book? Do you want water or juice?” This gives them a sense of power in the bedtime process. If they ask for something after lights out, remind them that they already made decisions for the evening and now it’s time to go to sleep.
9. Reward that kid. Reward charts seem to work better for children who are old enough to comprehend what reward means. We like all the products by Melissa & Doug: Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magnetic Responsibility Chart
10. Sell it. The toddler bed, that is. Give them a twin size bed with an explanation. For example, “This is your new Brave Boy Bed.” Or, “This is a bed for a princess who stays in her bed all night long.” Explain to them that with the bigger bed comes bigger responsibilities.
11. Silence is golden. One tactic I’ve heard is to not respond verbally to any of the delay tactics. Just get up and walk them back to the bed, put your finger to your mouth (shhh sign) and leave the room. When they get up to ask for something they want a response and conversation. It’s all part of the delay tactic. When you don’t give them a response, there is no conversation and no delay.
12. Consistency is key. If your current routine isn’t working, try one or more of these. Trying them just one night won’t work. Doctors tell us it takes 21 days to form or break habits. So choose wisely and commit to it long enough to see if it will be a success for your family.
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