GET TO bed!
Bedtime and children’s sleep habits can cause nightmares – for parents, that is! Sleep is important for children as it promotes health, wellbeing and learning. Current opinion in educational and health circles is that kids don’t get enough sleep. Around nine to 10 hours seems to be a minimum requirement for most ages, even teenagers.
Getting bedtime right is also vital so parents get some space and time for themselves and each other.
Unfortunately, children do not always see bedtime from a parent’s perspective. They often dispute calls for bed and complain loudly that it is too early.
Procrastinators, hardened debaters and jack-in-theboxes often come to the fore around bedtime.
If bedtime presents difficulties in your home, refer to the following checklist to make sure the bedtime routine runs as much as possible in your favour: 1Decide
on a time with your child and stick to it. There are no hard and fast rules about appropriate bedtimes. However, they should suit parents and children. Discuss appropriate bedtimes with children. Some fail to see that sleep is a biological need. They see it as something imposed on them. I am constantly amazed by how reasonable children can be when they have had the chance to participate in the decision-making process. 2Establish
a 30-minute bedtime routine that signals “one more story” or drink and demonstrate that you are the end of the day. A known routine such as quiet unwilling to play their “keep you busy with them” games.
8Avoid time, drink, toilet and story lets children know what is sitting with young children until they fall asleep. expected of them and enables them to plan accordingly. This may be all right once in a while, but habits are 3Reduce
over-stimulation before bedtime by ensuring difficult to break. Parents who sit with young children children engage in passive activities like reading. until they drop off may make a rod for their own backs. 4Temporarily 9Ignore
remove distractions at bedtime for or return boomerangs to their rooms with bedtime resisters. Sometimes turning off the TV minimum attention. Children will tire of being jack-incan be enough to send children to bed. the-boxes when they get little feedback for the behaviour. 5With 10Make
procrastinators, focus on your behaviour, not sure you wake them at the same time each theirs. I know a parent who begins reading a morning. If you over-compensate by allowing bedtime story whether her child is in bed or not. As them to sleep later to make up for lost sleep, you are her daughter treasures her story, this is generally encouraging a late sleep pattern. enough to have her rushing to the bedroom. Impress upon children that night-time is your time and, 6Distinguish
between being “in bed” and “being in as such, is extremely precious. Short of a nightmare, you the bedroom”. Children differ in the amount of sleep do not wish to be disturbed. If they have difficulty getting to that they need. It may be more realistic to expect some sleep or waking up, then it is their job to put themselves kids to be in their bedrooms at a set time, rather than in back to sleep or occupy themselves until they fall asleep. bed. Once away from the adult world, children
❋ generally fall asleep fairly quickly. Young children may EMAIL YOUR QUESTIONS TO: michaelgrose@ remain on their beds surrounded by a favourite toy or newstld.com.au Due to the large volume of books to keep them occupied before they fall asleep. questions, Michael cannot respond personally to 7Resist
children’s efforts to involve you by ignoring each one. Michael is a leading parent educator, the author of calls for drinks or assistance with forgotten homework seven parenting books and runs seminars around Australia. at bedtime. Once they are in bed, ignore requests for Visit www.parentingideas.com.au for more information.