Time for bed?

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Article Orlando Sentinel
August 9, 2012

How Parents can take charge of bedtime and get children to sleep

Too bad the sandman exists only in fable. A quick sprinkle of his magic dust would make bedtime so much easier for parents, especially when start-up-late summer gives way to the go-to-bed-early school year.

“Summer sleep patterns are understandably different from the rest of the year” says certified sleep consultant Krista Guenther, owner of Sleeperific in Kitchener, Ontario. ” I recommend starting to phase in earlier wake-ups and earlier bed-times about two weeks before school starts”. That may mean, for instance, going from 10 pm to 8 pm in 15 minute increments each night.

Sounds easy enough- except for the inevitable negotiations that just about every kid will employ. So give them a little leeway. Children are more likely to cooperate when they’ve been part of the decision making, Guenther says.

Older kids, for example, can decide on an appropriate bedtime with their parents. If they don’t get up on time, then they agree to go to sleep earlier. Younger kids can be part of deciding the pre-bedtime routine. That means offering age-appropriate choices like putting on pajamas before or after brushing their teeth.

They can be part of choosing their “quiet time” activity before bedtime, taking a bath, having a quiet chat about the day, reading a book, or listening to soothing music.

In all cases listen to your child’s point of view, and clearly explain why the bedtime is appropriate for their age and requirements. Sometimes the bedtime argument can be indicative of a larger issue such as anxiety about school, especially if its a big transition for the child. Try to be compassionate while listening to all the subterfuge. Do not lose your patience and argue with the child before you say goodnight. Its important that parents do not go into this struggle with the wrong attitude especially if the parent had a bad day.

How to Make a Child Drowsy

Find a routine that’s comfortable for the child and parent. Repeat routine as closely as possible every day.

Avoid over-stimulation and social interactions in the evening. Offer activities that allow your child to start winding down. Closer to bedtime lower lights, hushed tones and less physical activity.

Timing is key. Putting your child to bed drowsy but not overtired, will provide the best opportunity for them to shift from a busy day to a restful night.

No electronic devices a half-hour before bedtime. No exceptions. Remove them from the room so kids cant sneak them under the covers.

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Debbie Newell