It’s bedtime and before you know it, any number of excuses can push the buttons of many a calm parent.
It’s exhausting and frustrating when you have a child who is unwilling to go to bed. And when it comes to going to bed, kids love to use their power.
First, establish a consistent routine. Consistency creates success with children. Read to your children or create some other relaxing and enjoyable activity before bed time. Be consistent and be firm with children about sleeping in their own rooms.
"I want a drink of water" and "I can't go to sleep" are the most common cries. Snacks, bathing, brushing teeth and reading are calming activities that help children get ready for bed. Let kids know that they have to be in bed, and if they can’t fall asleep right away they can read a book. This will teach them to relax on their own.
If a child has napped for a long time that day or napped late, then they really can’t fall asleep. It’s best to gradually wean them from their naps, shortening them five to ten minutes every day.
Use positive and consistent reinforcement when a child continually gets out of bed. Once they learn the routine and believe you are serious, they will stay in bed. Praise them and reward them with a small prize for staying in bed.
Be sure to set boundaries. Develop a bedtime routine so your child can get used to a consistent pattern.
Some children will awaken because there is “a monster” in their room or under their bed. Be creative. Label a spray bottle “Monster Remover” and when your child shows their fear of the monster in the middle of the night, spray the “Monster Remover” throughout their room and explain that this will make the monster disappear. One parent creatively caught the monster in a plastic zip bag and sold it at an online auction.
Some children are afraid of the dark. The perfect fix is a night light or dimmer. Whatever the fear, help your child by listening to all the details and assure them that they are safe.
If your children’s fears develop into intense fright and panic, consult with your pediatrician or a professional counselor.