We all know how stressful it can be to get a hyperactive toddler tucked in. It’s important to enforce bedtime routines that are both practical and acceptable – getting a full night of rest at an early age is essential to your child’s physical and mental development.
It can seem like a never ending battle when the word bed-time is even mentioned – so it is crucial to make sure your child has gotten enough activity throughout the day, so that when it is time for rest, it doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
No one wants to have to deal with a temper tantrum at the end of the day – so listed here are some steps to take in order to avoid it, as well as promote the health and well being of your child.
1. Do Not Enforce Bedtimes That Are Unreasonable
Unless your primary school child needs to wake up at 4am every morning, a bedtime of 6:00 PM is rather unfair.
Depending on your child’s age, a certain amount of sleep is recommended. Recommended sleep for babies and toddlers is around 11 to 14 hours a day, while young children are recommended to get around 10 to 13 hours a day.
For your older children, make sure that they are asleep at least 9 hours before they need to be awake for school. Having them in bed 14 hours before their alarm clock might leave them restless in bed for a couple of hours before drifting off into sleep – it is likely that they will then begin to dread bedtime, as the thought of laying in bed before their daily fuel has run out may seem cruel and unusual.
As a side note, some children are afraid of the dark and the “monsters” that reside under their beds and in their closets – it can be helpful for them when you take some time to lay with them until they fall asleep, just to help ease their nerves until they achieve a deep state of sleep.
2. Make Sure Your Child is Active Throughout the Day
Enrolling your child in extracurricular activities like sports are not only healthy for their bodies and mind, but do promote a full night of rest. It is crucial that you enforce at least 30 minutes of activity or outside play time every day, as your child needs to release his or her adrenaline in some form or the other.
It is also important to note that your child should not be engaging in blood pumping activities, like running and jumping around, an hour to thirty minutes before bed. This time should be spent relaxing, perhaps reading a bedtime story or bathing.
Exhausting your child throughout the day is one of the most important tips offered in this article, as proper exercise will have them defenseless when the clock strikes bedtime.
3. No TV, Computers or Phones before Bedtime
This tip might not be as obvious as the others mentioned in this article – you may think this is a perfect way to wind your child down at night, but it might just do the opposite.
Blue light emitted from TV screens, computers, and tablets have the effect of tricking your brain into believing it is day time. This affects the production of the hormone melatonin (a neurochemical involved in sleep cues) as well as your child’s circadian rhythms.
If you are planning to watch a movie with your child before bed, consider activating a program on your computer that adapts to the time of day. Light emitted from your computer display will not be blue, but rather warmer colours, having no effect on you or your child’s sleeping patterns and alertness.
4. No Caffeine or Sugar Before Bed
This one is a given. Children should not be exposed to caffeine at such a young age anyway, considering the amount of natural energy they fortunately exhibit, but if they are (low dosages of course), make sure they do not eat or drink anything caffeinated up to 2 to 3 hours before they go to sleep.
Some children are more sensitive than others to caffeine, keeping certain children up hours after their scheduled bedtime.
The same rule applies to sugar – an ingredient more commonly found in our foods. Being an immediate source of energy, giving your child a cookie, chocolate bar, or soft drink before bed can affect their ability to fall asleep. Make sure your child isn’t consuming anything super sweet up to an hour before bedtime.
5. Be Consistent – Take Charge
By keeping consistency with these rules, your child will begin to understand that he or she is not able to extend his or her bedtime by a half hour or an hour if they have a temper tantrum or beg. It is also important to enforce the importance of the three other rules so that your child does not have trouble achieving a deep state of sleep when they are in bed.
Achieving a level of respect from your child is important when carrying out these limits, as it will be less of a struggle on both parties at the end of the day.
Keeping your child’s health in your best interest is something we all have in common. It can be rough when implementing these tips in the beginning, especially when it comes to keeping it all consistent, but your child will thank you in his or her later years (just like you did yours, right?).
For those of you that have children that are a little bit more stubborn, it is recommended that you play some soft classical music or lullabies to help them rest. Giving warnings, offering a snack (not high in sugar), dressing them in pajamas (this can be fun for them, as well as comfortable), giving them a warm bath (helps relax muscles), and providing a stuffed animal to cuddle with can all be beneficial in their pursuits to the land of slumber.