Monday, February 16, 2009

Making Bed Time Easier (5 posts coming on this)

An awesome new group started class last night... reminding me why I consider the opportunity to teach these classes such a privilege. A few questions from last night started me thinking about bed time routines.

Sleep is important. A well rested child is much easier to parent and is a much better learner in school. Some children are awesome natural sleepers. Others fight it tooth and nail or just need help establishing what doctors call "sleep hygiene." (Richard Ferber's book, Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems is a classic and another amazing book is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.) A bedtime routine helps a child wind down and get settled in.

Here are the basics!
  1. TIRED is important. Children should be physically tired at the end of a day. That means making sure they have adequate physical activity during their day.
  2. Quiet is important. As bed time nears, quieting down the entire household or moving the child to a quieter setting (Like quiet time in their room) is important. Some children will benefit from a "noise mask" in their room. Fans are great for this.
  3. Relaxed is important. An action movie or tension packed video game keeps adrenalin flowing and could hinder relaxation as could an intense interaction (fighting or fun rough housing) in the home right before bed. Frustrating homework right before bed might make sleep difficult. Some families use a quiet time for "getting ready for bed."
  4. "Self Quieting" is important! Children can be taught relaxation techniques to learn "self quieting skills" Younger children can cuddle a stuffed animal or hold a favorite blanket. The point here is that they can go to sleep alone. (Parent warning - be careful not to train your children to depend on you for quieting. Rubbing their back for a bit of relaxing and bonding time before bed is fine but if you must rub their back until they fall asleep you have accidentally made them dependant on you.)
It can take several nights or a week or more of consistent follow through to help a child learn the skills they need to go to sleep alone BUT it is SO Worth the investment for everyone!


  1. I am a parent of twin 2-yr old girls (& a 7 yr-old son).
    When I put the girls to bed our routine is to read a story, say prayers, turn on a quiet CD then I rub their backs for a few minutes. However, often when I get up to leave I'm told to, "Keep rubbing my back Daddy." I'll then say that I have to do something (clean the kitchen, read to our son, etc.) but if they close their eyes, "I'll be back when I'm done." After they verify that I'll indeed return, they'll fall asleep within minutes and I don't "come back."
    My question is, do you think I'm being deceitful in this, "The End justifies the Means" tactic? Thanks.

  2. Hi! The most important thing is that they can fall asleep on their own. So this looks like a great tactic. You are reassuring them that you'll check on them. It is important to be trustworthy so maybe just make sure that whatever you say is what you will actually be doing.

  3. Thanks. I do indeed check on them I just don't return to rub their backs.


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