A good morning routine starts the night before. If your child has had a calm bedtime routine: went to bed on time and got the sleep he/she needs, together you prepared and planned the morning chores the night before, your child will be happier, calmer and more focused. A good bedtime routine matters a lot for the day ahead!
Why do we have bedtime battles?
- Often bedtime struggles are related to the child simply not wanting to be separated from you. Understanding this might help you to stay calm but you can still be firm and consistent; ‘I can hear that you are upset because you don’t want to go to bed, and I understand that is how you feel’.
- It can also be related to control. The child might know that this is a ‘sore’ point for us so they can get LOTS of attention at this time by trying to control and resist the routine! SO it is even more important that we take charge (not control), set it up properly, stay calm, firm and consistent.
Here are 5 steps you can take to enable a good bedtime routine and in return set your children up for a successful and happy day:
- Involve your child in setting their bedtime routine: Make your child feel part of, in charge of and responsible for the routine. Sit down and agree to what the bedtime routine should look like. Don’t give orders or tell them how you think it should look like, ask what they think and then meet in the middle. Steps to take when setting it up together:
- Ask your child: what does a good bedtime routine look like to you? If you already have a bedtime routine (but it is not working) ask them to explain each step to you and then allow your child to make small realistic changes such as bath time before brushing teeth, they can choose the reading book, the light on etc.
- Time: make sure you don’t rush bedtime – the routine can take up to 2 hours; from dinner time to bed time.
- Have them visual: together make them visual i.e. print our images and let the child set them up in the right and agreed order. Why not try this: take a picture of your child doing each of the tasks towards the bedtime routine, print them out and let child put them in the right order.
- Screen time, energy food and rough play: These are 3 stimulates to avoid before bedtime. The timing depends on the age; the younger the child is the longer time you need between bedtime and the stimulants. When you set up the routine with your child, talk about these points; when is the last screen time viewing, when is the last time to eat and what can they have i.e. these are good ‘sleep food’: bananas, cherries, milk, jasmine rice, fortified cereals, turkey slices, sweet potatoes, valerian tea. Also, try to slow down by having a calm bath, read books, quite play etc.
- Think of the individual child: Each child is unique and might need different routines and bed times (this can be of benefit to you as this will enable you to spend some special time with each child). I have 3 kids and 3 bedtime routines and times.
- Be Consistent, Calm and Clear: if you want them to stick to the routine. But also if they resist the routine simply refer to the agreed visual in a calm, low but firm voice. Don’t ‘loose it’ or throw a tantrum as this will not help the situation as it is a sign that we are not in charge of the situation or of ourselves anymore, we are just role modelling negative behaviour. Also remember to praise and give encouragement; ‘Well done Sam for listening to me when I say it is time for bedtime’, ‘wow you are moving upstairs already to go to have your bath’. Try to praise all their effort not just the end result ‘bedtime’.
Our invitation to you: every night before putting you kids to bed say ‘I love you because…’ and have a new ‘because’ every day … because you are my child, have a nice smile, helped setting the table, soft skin etc.
The ParentingSuccess Team Wishes you and your child a good night sleep
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