Seven Methods for Successfully Getting Your Children to Bed

Special To MD Monthly 

Getting your child to agree to go to bed and remain there is a struggle that all parents face at some point. Children are often resistant to rules, especially when they are ready to stay up all night. To make matters worse, kids may try to sneak out of their bedroom, after Mom or Dad has left the room, and all seems quiet for a few minutes. To help your children approach bedtime without all the fussing, try these seven tips.

Establish a Clear Bedtime

The first tip is to establish a non-negotiable time for your child to be in their bedroom with the lights off.  Once you have a set bedtime for your child, you can plan each day more smoothly and communicate with them accordingly. Also, people are less resistant to what they already know, so when your child sees bedtime arrives at the same time each night (even if only weeknights), they will slowly but surely show less defiance. Consistent enforcement of lights-out allows them to prepare for their sleep environment and be less likely to feel you are thwarting their fun.

Bring Out Pajamas Early

Changing your child into his or her pajamas 20 or 30 minutes before bedtime will help them get prepared. When they are already in their sleeping clothes, and that time arrives, they will be more agreeable to the idea. You might even facilitate the process by providing them with comfortable pajamas they’ll love to wear. 

Accommodate Their Interests

If your kids are enjoying a show or movie that will play past their bedtime, record it or agree to let them watch it another day. By helping them understand that you are not working against them and that a fun reward awaits them because of their willingness to sleep, your children may become eager for bedtime.

Show Appreciation for Sleep

You might want to remind your child that you would love to go to sleep as early as they do, but your life and responsibilities do not permit it. Explain to your child the value of a good night’s rest, and how it makes them stronger, healthier, and smarter.

Make Their Bedroom Inviting

Customizing your child’s bedroom with wallpaper from their favorite movie, furniture they like and a color scheme that relaxes them can increase the likelihood for your child to go to bed and even enjoy it. If they feel comfortable being alone in their bedroom, perhaps with a few relaxing games or toys, they may naturally want to spend more time there.

Softly Play Their Favorite Music

If your child has a favorite genre of music or artist, find a small Bluetooth speaker or similar arrangement that has an easily adjustable volume. As lights-out approaches, having the music playing quietly in the bedroom can soothe the child’s mind and help them to relax and fall asleep. 

Read Them a Story

Finally, reading to your children at bedtime can entice them when nothing else does. Perhaps there’s a favorite story they like to hear multiple times, or maybe they enjoy being distracted as they become tired. Use your child’s personality to determine what works best, and then keep the appropriate books ready in their room.

While there’s no silver bullet for getting your children to bed, these techniques may help minimize the stress involved in this nightly process. Be willing to try a few new methods; you might want to ask fellow parents for their recommendations as well. Find the ones that work for you and your family, and then stick with what seems most reliable.