Every parent understands the struggle. The first goodnight is almost never the last goodnight. Many parents are frustrated by the number of times their child gets up after they’ve just put them in bed. Perhaps your child is overly talkative and will continue to yell for you until you return to their room. (Oh, the joys of parenthood!) This difficult picture is quite typical, and children will do almost anything to sleep late. (More hugs! Now all I want to do is chat! I’m feeling lonely! I’m scared!) But, if every night is a battle to get your child to sleep and stay asleep, what else can you do but lose patience?
You should be aware that children are inquisitive and, for whatever reason, may feel as if they are missing out when they go to bed. They desire to explore and spend time with other people. Getting out of bed or refusing to sleep may indicate that your child requires more routine, or it may indicate that your child is stressed or frightened and needs to be reassured. While it is simple to turn down the sheet and let your kid sleep in your bed. But, after a night of tossing and turning with a difficult-to-wake kid, you may come to regret your decision. Here are five things you can do to break your child’s habit of sneaking into bed with you.
- Establish a Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines do not need to be complicated, but they must be regular. A bedtime ritual should be something your child looks forward to and considers a special time each night. Bedtime routines help in preparing your child for sleep in a relaxed manner.
A predictable bedtime routine also provides your child with a sense of security and teaches them how to go asleep on their own. This is also significant for night wakings. If your child’s bedtime ritual includes falling asleep without your presence, they will be more likely to do so if they wake up during the night.
Reading a favorite book in a special corner of the room, taking a bath to relax music, eating a snack and then cleaning teeth, swapping highlights of the day, or even a unique bedtime kiss and hug ritual can all be part of the routine.
- Turn Off All Electronics
Remove televisions, computers, phones, video games, and other electronic devices from your children’s bedrooms. These devices promote wakefulness by delivering exciting media as well as generating light that replicates daylight and misleads the brain into believing it needs to stay awake. Electronics should be switched off or removed at least an hour before going to bed. Allowing TVs and computers in their rooms expose children to potential distractions that you will be unable to control after you leave the room.
- Make Their Space Comfortable and Personalized
Your child’s room should be a comfortable and personalized space that encourages sleep. Furthermore, their bedroom should be a sleeping area. This means no screens in the room, even if it isn’t bedtime. With blackout curtains, you can keep the room cool and dark. Using a white noise machine or a fan may also assist to drown out noises that could keep children awake. Here are two other ideas for making their space both comfy and personalized:
- Consider the size of the bed – When a child outgrows the crib, it is usual for parents to move the child to a twin sized bed or even a larger bed. That is acceptable for some children, but others may be intimidated or even threatened by this size. Depending on a child’s personality, toddler beds can be a good transition from the crib as opposed to a twin or larger sized bed. Toddler beds are frequently offered in themed designs such as a race car or a castle which could make bedtime more exciting for your child. Some cribs actually convert to toddler beds so you could be saving some money by going for this sort of option. When your child moves from a crib to a big bed, make sure they can easily get in and out of the bed on their own and are comfortable in it.
- Give them ownership – Allowing your child to assist in the design of their room is an option. Allow them to choose the bedding and give your child options for a bedroom theme, bed and furniture placement (with your assistance, of course), and overall appearance and feel. You want your child to enjoy their room and spend time in it.
- Avoid Meals and Caffeine Before Bedtime.
Caffeine is a stimulant that is not helpful for children in any case. If you do let your child have the occasional soft drink, make sure they don’t consume any drinks with sugar or caffeine within 3 hours of bedtime. Snacks are fine before bedtime as long as they are healthy and not too filling. If your child requests food or drinks before sleep, offer them a warm glass of milk or a little healthy snack like fruit or crackers.
- The One Last Thing
Children will always request one more thing: hugs, a sip of water, a walk to the restroom, or just one more book. Try to avoid these requests by including them in the night routine. Also, make it clear to your child that once they are in bed, they must remain in bed.
If they get out of bed, don’t react; simply take their hand in yours and walk them back to bed. If you argue or give in to their wishes, you’re giving them the additional attention and delayed bedtime they crave. And don’t fall into the “just this once” trap. If you read one more storybook or let them stay up later “just this once,” the nighttime routine you’ve established may fall apart.
Your child may want to disagree or oppose the new bedtime regulations, but you should ignore these complaints and arguments. Inform your child, firmly and quietly, that this is the new bedtime routine. It may be difficult at first, and it may take several nights to get your child adjusted to the routine, but you will succeed if you continue. Remember that consistency is important!