CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Getting your child to go to bed can be one of the biggest struggles parents face. The truth is, many kids just don’t want to go to bed at night. Clinical Psychologist Dr. Elaine Ducharme shared tips on how you can you get your kids to go to bed and stay there.
Getting Kids to Go to Bed and Stay There… Without You
Have bedtime routines changed today?
I think many parents have always known that a good routine helps kids settle down at night. But , today’s parents seem to have more difficulty getting through this nightly ritual.
Why…what is different
First of all, we seem to have adopted a parenting style that wants to avoid anything that upsets our kids. So we tend to give in to their demands. If a child says I’m scared to sleep alone, parents more frequently lay down with their child until they fall asleep…instead of helping them develop better coping skills.
Also, once parents lay down with their kids, they are often so tired that they fall asleep. sometimes they stay there all night. Or if they get up and go to bed, their child seems to end up in their bed in the middle of the night. I have seen families that have a couple of kids and the family dogs or cats all in the same bed. Parents tell me they either didn’t know their children came into their bed or they were too lazy to put them back in their own bed. Frankly, I want to know if anyone is climbing into my bed!
So, is their something wrong with everyone sleeping together?
Well, if you want to work on keeping intimacy alive in your marriage, it helps not to to have kids and dogs in your bed. Also, kids and pets in the bed definitely disrupt a good nights sleep.
So, what should parents do?
This is actually one of the easiest behaviors to change in children. But it requires parents full commitment and willingness to hear their kids cry or complain for awhile. But if they stick to their guns the problem is almost always completely resolved in two weeks.
Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep
1. Establish a bedtime routine bath, brush teeth, story time, a few minutes of back rub or snuggles and then a kiss goodnight and leave.
2. Leave a nightlight on in the room if your child wants
3. The door can be opened or closed. It is really helpful for new parents to remember not to try to be totally silent when they put their babies to bed. That way children learn to sleep even with conversation in the background.
4. Let your child know how things are going to be. If your child cries let them cry it out. They may scream, try to come downstairs. But just return them to bed calmly.
5. Reward the positive…they can earn a small prize like a sticker for each night they go to bed without a fuss. A slightly bigger prize for a week and then something special for two weeks of appropriate bedtime behavior.
6. Use the same principles for kids coming into your room. Promptly return them to their room. Better to sit with them for a few minutes till they settle down. Use the reward system. Again…2 weeks of parents being able to do this every night and the problem is solved.