How to Get Your Child into a Bedtime Routine
September 12, 2017 | Updated August 1, 2018
Is your child bouncing off the walls? Strangely enough, the cause might be a lack of sleep. Kids always seem to fight giving in to sleep (has an eight-year-old ever said, “Mom, I think it’s my bedtime”?) Instead, their exhaustion tends to manifest in different ways, which on the surface, might seem unrelated to their sleep patterns.
Over-tired kids might pick a fight with a classmate, fail to answer a question correctly during class, or become hyperactive. While there might be other factors at work, sleep deprivation could be a key player.
Research has shown that irregular and late bedtimes have a major influence on kids’ behavior. Conversely, structured bedtimes and bedtime routines help children function better in their day-to-day.
What should a good bedtime routine look like? Most importantly, it should be consistent. When you pick a bedtime that works for your family (keeping in mind that kids ages 7-13 need between 8 and 11 hours of sleep each night), stick with that bedtime every day, even on weekends.
If your child seems to put up a fight each night, try setting an alarm to announce that it’s time to start the winding down process. Some families find it helpful for a “third party” to announce that it’s pajama time.
This method helps neutralize the situation because it separates the time of day from a person saying that it’s time for bed. The winding down process could include changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story.
If your child wants a nighttime snack, try something that’s a mix of protein and carbs. This combo helps people fall asleep while maintaining a stable blood sugar throughout the night.
Lastly, when you leave your child’s room after saying goodnight, don’t go back if they call for you. This step can be a tough habit to adopt, but it’s important for showing your child that bedtime is non-negotiable. Hold your ground and they’ll learn that fighting you on this one won’t work.