The other day I was meeting with a principal about teaching a class for parents at her school. I told her to check out my website and that I’m in the midst of learning how to blog. It was then that she leaned forward to me, dropped her principal demeanor, faced me mom-to-mom and said, “Could you please write your first one about how to get a 4 year old to go to bed at night? I really need some help here.”
That is such a common question that I hear from parents all the time. I understand it well as I’ve been there with my own kids over the years and still face it some nights with teenagers! Out of instinct, I rattled off to her the list of things I share with most parents to consider when faced with a child that just won’t go to bed, stay in bed, or go to sleep.
Incase you are having an issue getting your kid(s) to bed, here are some suggestions:
·Choice the kid into bed. Earlier in the day come up with a list of choices you can give your kids at bedtime and leading up to bedtime. Give the choices over things that don’t affect your control but gives the kids some control on your terms.
·Example choices: Do you want to read one book or two? Do you want to have the covers on or the covers off? Do you want to sleep with your head on the pillow or your feet on the pillow? Do you want want one kiss or two? Do you want me to come check on you in five minutes or ten minutes?
·Choices are not a garuentee that the kids will stay in bed, but it sure raises the odds that they will be less arguementative about it.
·Bedtime is a great time for kids to learn problem solving skills. Say “It’s bed time, what are you going to do to make sure I get my parent time with you in bed?” Help the child brainstorm ideas of what would work for them. If the child comes up with solutions, they will be the most successful solutions!
·If the child says they don’t have any ideas say “OK, here is the deal. You are welcome to get out of bed only to come tell me the solutions you’ve come up with. However, the solutions have to be one that will not affect another person in this house tonight.”
·If you still have a kid popping up out of bed have them join you in household tasks that need to get done---folding laudry, dishes, packing lunches for the next day, whatever that needs to be done. This does 3 things: Gives you assistance in getting things done, provides some one-on-one time between you and your child, the child finds it’s not a lot of fun to stay up because you have to work!
·Even if the kid tells you they like doing chores and helping it will become old.
·Too often we try to solve the problem, tell the kid what to do, and make them comfortable. When it’s time to go to bed give the kids control over stuff so they feel empowered (choices), turn the problem back to them of how to solve it (ask them to come up with a solution), and make it just a bit too boring and uncomfortable that they choose bed over staying up.
·Oh…did I mention the biggest key? Take good care of yourself! Set limits you can enforce, organize yourself with a “plan” rather than just yell them into bed, look for the positives (ie: It’s a great time for them to learn to problem solve) and point out what is going well instead of what all is going wrong. Remember: If it doesn’t go perfectly when you first start making changes, keep working at it and don’t give up! Trust me, the kids will give you another opportunity to try it again the next night so think of each night as practicing for the next.
What other topics would you like to have discussed in my blog? E-mail me topics and/or send me questions that I can respond to in a blog posting.