*This is a collaborative guest post
Bedtime can be a very challenging time for a young child. They don’t want to go to sleep, they don’t want to stop playing or watching their favourite movie, and most of all, they don’t want to miss out on any fun.
However, once you understand why this task can be challenging, it becomes far easier to manage it. Like ensuring they have followed their bedtime routine and have their favourite pillows or toys. Here are some tips to help you create a bedtime routine that will work, no matter how badly your child doesn’t want to sleep.
What Causes Bedtime to be Difficult?
While there are several reasons why toddlers and young children don’t want to go to bed, such as not having their favourite pillows or not being able to watch TV, here are a few of the most common ones.
No matter your age, sleep can be difficult if you have been over-stimulated right before. This can be from playing a game, watching an exciting movie, etc. Children are the same; it s difficult for them to fall asleep if they were in “fun and play mode” a few minutes before.
Simple fears can also have an effect on bedtime. As children get older, their imaginations become bigger and more detailed; this is why so many children think there is a monster under their bed or in their closet.
Wanting to be With You
Sometimes children just don’t want to be away from their parents, and they don’t understand that saying goodnight and going to sleep doesn’t mean they won’t see you again. This can be difficult to overcome, but with time, they begin to understand.
When a child is having fun, they struggle to understand why you are taking that fun away from them, and that is sometimes how they view bedtime. Going to sleep means they can’t play and be happy; therefore, why would they want to do that?
If you are struggling to create a bedtime routine that works consistently, here are some helpful tips you can try and implement.
Make it a Family Routine
The first step is to make bedtime a family event. While this is difficult with much younger children as they sleep more, with toddlers and older children, if everyone is going to bed together, they won’t feel like they are missing out on something.
This will also eventually stop them from getting up and coming to find you, as they know you are sleeping in bed, and therefore they should be too.
Make bedtime a fun experience by having a few simple bedtime rituals. These can be the typical things such as reading a book, singing a bedtime song, or something similar. All you have to remember is to keep the ritual calm and relaxing.
Keep it Short
Bedtime routines shouldn’t be drawn out or take longer than 15 minutes. This should include brushing their teeth, getting changed, and doing their bedtime ritual. Considering this is meant to be a calm and relaxed time, don’t let it become a lengthy activity.
While there is no need to have a stopwatch and be a drill sergeant, it is important to remain consistent; most importantly, consistency between both parents too. Nothing will ruin a bedtime routine quicker than one parent being OK with the child staying up a bit longer.
Much like adults, your bedroom environment can have an effect on how well you sleep. In your child’s bedroom, it is important to ensure the room is dark, toys aren’t easily accessible, and they have their safety item nearby.
If your child is scared of the dark, opt for a nightlight over, leaving a door open. Also, ensure they are comfortable, make sure they aren’t too hot or cold, and make sure there is sufficient air ventilation, as this aids in falling asleep.
Technology should not be part of the bedtime routine in any way. The bright lights and sounds will overstimulate the brain and make sleep nearly impossible, and there is little chance your child will want to go to sleep if they are playing their favourite game.
Instead, ensure that any and all technology is kept in the living room or in your bedroom and that it is out of reach of any prying hands.
Make Sure They Use the Bathroom
One aspect of bedtime that is often overlooked is the need to use the bathroom. Not only is needing the bathroom a very common reason for people not to fall asleep, but it also gives your child an excuse to get up and wander.
Instead, ensure they use the bathroom right before they are meant to go to sleep to limit any mid-sleep interruptions.
Don’t Entertain Midnight Fun
Finally, if your child wakes up after a couple of hours, it is very easy just to invite them to watch TV until they fall asleep or something similar. While this may seem like the less-stressful option, it isn’t.
Entertaining this type of thing gives your child a reason to do it more often; if they wake up, they get to do something fun. While you obviously shouldn’t punish your child for waking up, the correct course of action is to take them back to bed immediately and either do your bedtime rituals again or wait for them to fall asleep.