Children rarely look forward to bedtime. In fact, many American children will push themselves past the advised amount of sleep regardless of how they feel. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average American child gets significantly less sleep than recommended for their age. Establishing good sleep habits in your child requires active interest by the parent to help them develop a routine and get the sleep they need.
Establish a Routine
Children operate better when they have structure in their life. This applies to both bedtimes and bedtime routines. The first step in establishing a bedtime routine is setting a bedtime for your child. Going to bed at the same time every night helps your child’s body and mind wind down and be ready for sleep when the time comes. Once you have determined a bedtime, create a bedtime routine for your child. It can be as simple as preparing for bed by changing into pajamas and washing his face, or setting aside time to read to your child or allow him to read to himself. This process will help ease your child and prepare him for bed.
Calm Your Child’s Body and Mind
JustMommies.com advises limiting or restricting active play, video games or television for an hour or two prior to bedtime. All of these are activities can keep your child’s mind and body active and alert, making it tougher for her to calm down as bedtime nears.
Create a Quiet Environment
Many younger children have earlier bedtimes than their parents and older siblings. Knowing that activity continues after their bedtime can make it difficult for a child to go to bed, particularly when they can hear this activity. Make your home more conducive to sleep by lowering the volume on your television or stereo, keeping your voices down and making sure that other people in the home do quiet activities that won’t disturb or distract younger children.
Give Your Child Options
Let your child choose her pajamas, the stuffed animal she sleeps with, or the story she reads or has read to her–this will help your child approach bedtime more eagerly, and she will be more comfortable with her situation than being forced into a certain bedtime situation.
About this Author
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the “Omaha World-Herald” and “New York Newsday.” He has spent several years working on tri-annual wedding publications as both a writer and content editor. Croswell received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska.