Children’s Bed Time Strategies

Children's Bed Time Strategies for Getting the Jump on Bed Time

Establishing a bed time routine for your children can be both rewarding and challenging. If you find routine difficult then you are not alone. It can be hard work to cater for more than one child at bedtime as often they have different needs and personalities. It has been suggested that one of the best children's bed time strategies is for you follow a routine with children. You will find that it may be slow going at the beginning but persistence will pay off.

Children’s Bed Time Strategies

Children's Bed Time Strategies for You to Put into Practice

  • You will need to examine your own attitudes to sleep. What do you see as good sleep patterns for yourself? As busy parents we may feel that there is so much to fit into a day that sleep takes a back seat. Children may pick up on this and question why you are making rules about their bedtime when they as seeing you tired and saying how little sleep you get or even need. Positive attitudes to sleep in parents can often take the stress out of bedtime for their children. Make sleep a family priority and have realistic expectations.
  • Stop rough and tumble games and turn off the television and computer games at least a half hour before bedtime. Agree on a place to sit and settle with a warm drink and quiet conversation. Make bedtime early enough so there is time for winding down. Give choices to children such as; what pyjamas they want to wear; what toy they would like in the bath; which story they would like you to read. (Yes it is THAT story AGAIN!) When all the deciding and collecting is finished then it is bath time. Don’t leave decision on going to bed until after you bath your children as this will break the relaxation effect of the bath.
  • Consistency is the key: same time; same routine each night. Of course there are exceptions but try as much as possible to be consistent. Set a regular bedtime and wake time as each child’s sleep patterns will work to their internal body clock. If it is still light when bedtime comes around, then darken the room. The ambience of the room should be consistent. Warmth; night lighting if required, (blue or red light is thought to be less intrusive for sleep); comfortable pyjamas; soft music may be needed to lull your little angle to sleep.
  • Bed time means separation and each child deals with this in different ways. It is a good idea to take your child to the store and allow them to choose a bedtime friend.  Use this item only at bed time and have your child tuck it in and leave it in the bed for when they return to bed at night. It may help if they bring their friend to the dinner table at night and sit it on the vanity basin while they bath. It is also helpful if you talk to this friend about bedtime. For example; “My goodness teddy you are looking sleepy. I hope you can stay awake for the story Joe has chosen.”
  • Teamwork is best. If each partner is involved then it halves the possibility of objection to going to bed. Take charge and set limits. The two of you will have to be in agreement on what limits are to be set and the tolerance of behaviours such as getting out of bed once you have settled your child. There is no longer list of excuses than a child who does not want to go to bed. Try not to feel stressed with each other as this will give your child the green light to start objecting to bed time. There is no greater stimulant for unwanted behaviour in your child than parents divided on what is acceptable behaviour at bedtime. Discuss it; agree on it; and stick to it. You are entitled to your time alone and together.

There is no one ideal bed time for each child because lifestyle; napping patterns; and personality can differ greatly. Choose a time to suit your family and keep the routine as short as possible. Don’t have a complicated long routine as you may find yourself having to repeat it numerous times each night until the routine is understood and adhered to by your child. Don’t expect that there will be no opposition to a few rules as children are masters of manipulation where bed time is concerned.

Try these children's bed time strategies and you may well find that you do get the jump on bed time!

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Heather Collins

Heather Collins is an Early Childhood and Special Education Teacher who makes developmentally appropriate resources for teachers and parents to use with their children. She is author and co-author of poetry books and children’s books. She is a passionate collagist and has crafted beautiful finger puppets and story aprons suitable for early childhood education.

Her resources can be purchased on this website or she can be contacted at Create-Ed by emailing heathercreated@gmail.com. You can order an original apron for any favourite storybook.

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