Establishing a Bedtime Routine for Kids

Child Sleeping with Teddy BearEvery parent has likely struggled with this issue: how can you get the kids to go to bed when they just don’t want to? Parenting experts often say the best approach with uncooperative children at bedtime is to establish a routine. Knowing how to establish one is the key to making evenings go a little more smoothly.

How to Establish a Bedtime Routine

  1. Establish a routine. Having an established bedtime routine and sticking with it is the best way to create success. When the child’s brain is programmed to know what happens next, the rituals become a habit and a routine.

  2. Follow the same steps each night leading up to bedtime. It might be dinner followed by a bath and quiet reading time. Whatever you want it to be, consistency is what is important.

  3. Don’t lose your temper. This may be a difficult one, especially if you are exhausted. But when you get angry with your child, it only makes the situation worse.

  4. Don’t give in to pressure. Depending upon the age of a child, you might have to let them “cry it out.” If you know nothing is physically wrong, it might be worth a few nights of tears to get them to sleep in their own bed the whole night.

  5. Unplug and wind down. With kids getting iPhones and tablet devices at younger and younger ages, an often overlooked source of bedtime problems is electronics. Make it a rule that no one uses them after dinner time. That will allow them to wind down and calm down.

  6. Create a happy bedtime ritual just for your family. It might be that each child shares their best and worst highlights from the day right before you turn off the light.

  7. Don’t let age fool you. Remember that even the older children likely still need bedtime rituals. It not only helps keep them on track with quality sleep, but sets a good example for their younger siblings.

Finally, if nothing you try is working, talk with their pediatrician. Children sometimes have sleep apnea that makes sleeping through the night very difficult. Their physician can determine if that might be the issue and recommend ways you can overcome it. Visit our child & family page for more tips on child care.