In a perfect world, your children would start yawning around 7:30 at night, announce they are ready for bed and fall blissfully asleep by 8:00. But this nocturnal fantasyland rarely exists in your home. On the contrary, you have kids who resist going to bed, insist on sleeping in your room and generally make the evening a challenge.
Fortunately, there is help for children who don’t want to go to bed at night. To encourage your kids to get to sleep — in their own beds — check out the following tips:
Help Them Fall Asleep on Their Own
If your kiddos insist that you sit with them until they fall asleep or if they end up crawling into your bed at 2 a.m., Real Simple has some ideas that will help start a bedtime “de-clinging” process. After making sure your children are tucked in bed with a glass of water nearby, cheerfully say “I’ll be right back” and check on them in a few minutes. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, make the time that you are away a bit longer.
If your children are afraid of the dark, shop for a cool night-light and make up a bottle of “monster repellent,” otherwise known as water in a brightly colored spray bottle. If your children sneak into your room in the middle of the night, give them a hug and smooch and lead them back to their beds and do the ritual again.
Create a Restful Sleep Environment
To help encourage sleep, make sure your kids’ rooms are quiet and that the rest of the house is not too noisy. This might mean asking your older kids to keep the TV volume lower or putting off loud activities like vacuuming until the morning.
Check out your children’s beds to test their comfort level. If the mattress seems thin or the footboard is preventing your growing kids from stretching out, go shopping together for a new bed. If you let them have a say in decorating their rooms, they will be more excited about being in there at night. Bunk beds are a great option if your kids are sharing a room. Don’t discount unique designs or arrangements if they’re going to help your children sleep comfortably through the night.
Start a Predictable Nighttime Routine
Kids thrive on a bedtime routine. It teaches their bodies that it’s time for bed and it gives them a needed sense of security. While routines can vary from child to child, they should include all of the hygiene-related tasks that should be done before crawling into bed, including putting on PJs and brushing their teeth.
Read a couple of books with your children, serve them a small snack, say prayers together or talk about the day. Make the routine relatively short (around 30 minutes) and be firm when it’s over and time to get into bed. Avoid making television or video games part of the routine, as these activities can over-stimulate kids‘ brains and make it harder for them to settle down.