Camilla McGill

Just go to sleep!

Nov 09, 2021

If you find bedtime is a regular battle, it might be helpful to know that so many parents experience the process of getting their children into bed and then keeping them there throughout the night as a regular nightmare.

For many parents, preventing their children from waking up in the night and possibly disturbing siblings is also a problem.

Remember, when they are teenagers this will cease to be a problem and then you'll struggle to get your children out of bed!

Sleep deprivation is a form of torture and I probably don't need to tell you this -  not only do children need their sleep but we also need as much sleep as we can get too.

It's also healthy to have time in the evening away from the kids.

Often the problem arises because of we are inconsistent. I know, I know.  Trying to be consistent is one of the hardest parts about being a parent.

It may be that some nights we let our child come downstairs if they say they can’t sleep; other nights they may be allowed to come into our bed in the night as we're simply too tired to take them back.

Sometimes we give in because we don’t want the noise of the tantruming child to wake other children.

Or it's just because at the end of the day, you want some peace and quiet and it's easier to let them slip into bed with us.

If that works, it's fine but we've got to decide, as so often there are times we ‘clamp down’, get very cross and stern and often lose our tempers which is confusing for our kids.

So here are a few solutions: 

  1. Sit down with your partner (or if you are a single parent, with anyone else who is regularly involved in putting the children to bed) and decide on what you think the rules of the house should be around bedtime

  2. Decide what time you want to exit the bedroom and not go back in

  3. What are you agreeing/deciding to do if the children come into your bed at night? 

  4. What reward systems could you have in place to encourage the children to follow the rules? Some examples are stickers or ticks on a chart, a special snuggle in the morning or they get to choose something for breakfast

  5. Establish a routine in the evening which is conducive to the children winding down, such as sitting quietly on the sofa or on a bed for stories or playing a quiet game after the tea, bath, pyjamas and teeth-brushing routine

  6. Keep the lights low and no loud noises. Gentle music would help. Don’t use TV as part of your winding down routine

  7. Follow the same routine every evening

  8. Make this whole routine as positive as you can by using masses of praise and not criticising or nagging

  9. Allow time for it so that you don’t feel rushed

  10. Start as early as necessary. Don’t encourage rough and tumble at this time of day

I hope this helps.  You'll find my mini course Positive Discipline, Finding the Balance a great structure to help you be more consistent and positive with your kids for bedtime and many other things.  Click here to take a look


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