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Parenting and Bedtime Behaviour

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Bedtime Children Parenting Behaviour

Bedtime is potentially one of the most stressful times of day for parents-particularly if your child really does not like going to bed and makes a big fuss about it.

Every child is different, and they all have their own reasons for not wanting to go to bed or for not liking the idea of bedtime generally. The only way to make life less stressful is to try and establish what the problem is, identify when the problems really begin and then try to avoid or manage the triggers that set off challenging bedtime behaviour.

Allow Yourself Plenty Of Time

Children can sense almost instantly if we are stressed or panicking about something and this kind of behaviour near to bedtime will never result in a smooth and relaxing end to the day. It may sound boring, but routine is key so try and keep to your timetable at least during the week.

Routine Works

Life doesn’t always allow us to stick rigidly to our routines, and inevitably something will crop up to put a spanner in the works from time to time. However, if you have a basic routine in place already, then a small alteration every now and then should not cause too many problems.

After school try to get into the habit of getting your children a healthy snack and letting them relax before embarking on any homework that might need to be done. This is the best way to start easing them gently into their evening and night time routine.

Homework, Tea, Bath And Bed

It really should all happen in that order, with at least one parent sticking to the routine and making sure that dinner is on the table at a reasonable time. This means that children have a relaxing evening and should then be in a better frame of mind when it comes to bedtime. Spend some time with your children, helping with homework, watching TV or playing a relaxing game.

The Twilight Zone!

The time after school and before bed can very easily become the twilight zone, and children can literally appear to grow horns and transform into little monsters before our very eyes! If you do have a child who find bedtimes difficult, it is worth investing all of your time in trying to make this time calmer and more manageable.

The best approach to have is one that basically means you do not try to finish any work, clear out any cupboards, talk to your friends on the phone or anything else remotely distracting until the children are all safely tucked up in their beds.

Don’t Take Your Eye Off The Ball!

Children are cunning creatures and as they get older will take advantage of a busy and stressed out parent by making their lives even more difficult. Try and stick to dinner at a certain time followed by bath time and bed, and if your children enjoy a bed time story that is an excellent way to end the day.

Why Bedtimes Can Be Difficult

Bedtimes present their own challenges to parenting, and children who really have a problem with going to bed could have a million different reasons. Among the main ones are:

  • Fear of the dark or being alone
  • Not wanting to be away from you or the rest of the family
  • Feeling they may be missing out on something
  • Feeling worried or anxious or upset about something that has happened during the day
  • Feeling concerned about something that is happening tomorrow

Many children suffer from night terrors and do genuinely have a fear of the dark. If this is the case, you can seek specialist help and advice from your GP or health visitor, but a good start is to invest in a night light that just gives out a warm glow to your child’s room. The other alternative is to leave a landing or bathroom light on.

A child who refuses to go to bed presents problems for the whole family and can make bedtimes the part of the day that parents dread. Tantrums, screaming and shouting and just flatly refusing to get into their pyjamas can be frustrating, upsetting and extremely tiring for everyone. It is so hard to stay calm and rational when you are exhausted and stressed, but try hard not to raise your voice or turn the situation into an even bigger drama.

Stay In Control

It can be easier said than done, but try to keep your cool and stay in control of the situation. A child who is genuinely frightened of the dark can be calmed down and helped. A child who is simply being difficult is different and needs equally careful handling, but also needs to know that you are in charge and that everyone in the house has to go to bed.

Try to resist the temptation to let them sleep in your bed. It can take a long time to break a habit like this and can cause stress and anxiety to the child and the parents.

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