As much as you adore your children, there’s nothing wrong with appreciating the nightly break when they go to bed and the house becomes yours again. After all, when your little ones have a decent night’s sleep, there’s a good chance that you will too.
Of course, it’s never that simple. Many children simply reject the bedtime process, and this can lead to late nights and disrupted slumber, ultimately affecting their mood, concentration, and even their weight. If this sounds familiar, then test out the following list to hopefully turn this nightly nightmare into a welcoming dreamlike experience.
By creating a bedtime ritual, a child’s mind will familiarize itself with these patterns and should automatically slip into the sleepy zone before they’ve even reached the finish line. Provide them with plenty of preparation space (around 20 to 30 minutes) where they can wash up, change into their pajamas and brush their teeth. It’s also important to enforce the same bed and waking up time every day to build this habit, which unfortunately includes weekends too!
- Avoid Stimulation
Television and digital devices have long been proven to reduce the sleep hormone called melatonin. For these reasons, all screens should be switched off at least two hours before bedtime, with special consideration to content which may cause undesirable dreams. Any type of physical activity is a much better option, so go for a walk or ask your kids to show you their latest dance moves.
- Include Them in the Process
By granting your young ones some simple control over the matter, you will nurture their independence and decrease any resistance towards your authority. Methods worth trying include the selection of their pajamas, the order in which they get ready, or the bedtime stories they’d prefer to hear. Another trick is to ask them if they’d like to go to bed now or in five minutes, as this will softly prepare them for the inevitable conclusion without throttling their opinion.
- The Sleeping Environment
Regardless of age, there are certain conditions which assist an easier sleep transition, such as lower noise levels and a dark room. Gradually nurture this environmental change by slowly lowering the volume of any sounds and dimming the lights as bedtime approaches. If a small child requires a nightlight, then purchase a faint lamp or leave the hallway switch on.
It goes without saying that the bed itself needs to be an inviting place. Establish that their sleepwear does not restrict their movements, and remember that clean sheets eradicate bacterial threats while the right pillows provide relief from neck pain. It’s normal for a child to request a stuffed animal or their favorite blanket, but be careful that the bed doesn’t become a crowded space. Finally, regulate the room’s temperature to be slightly cooler than normal.
- Provide Incentive
Many parents swear by the reward system, offering a star to those who go to bed without a fuss. When a certain amount of stars have been collected, then a prize can be acquired. Another good idea is to allow a bedtime snack which will calm them down and fuel their body through the night. Obviously, you should keep it small and tasty, for example, slices of fruit, yogurt with honey, or a little bowl of healthy cereal.
There is no bedtime technique more widely utilized than that of the classic storytime routine. The idea is to wind kids’ thoughts down and away from the business of their daily concerns. This means that you can achieve much the same result by playing small games like I Spy or charades. Even better, encourage their creativity by taking turns in developing your own fairy tale masterpiece.
- Sound Therapy
Soft sounds are famous for relaxing the atmosphere, so why not experiment with soothing music or gentle vibrations from nature? If you live in a rowdy area, download a white noise app to drown out the bustle.
- Provide Protection
Bedtime fears are an unfortunate reality for many children, and these worries should not be disregarded as a silly side effect of their overexcited imaginations. Spend some time to logically reassure your kids that there is nothing to be afraid of. However, if that doesn’t work, then arm them with a “weapon”, such as a flashlight, a large protective fluffy toy, or an air freshener labeled as “Monster Spray”.
- Lookout for Sleep Disorders
If your child is always getting out of bed, forever suffering from nightmares, breathing unusually, or perpetually in a negative mood, then these upsets could mean something much more serious. Get a medical professional to look over their symptoms while considering any sleep disorders, and then evaluate what options are available.