As parents, we constantly try to set good examples for our children. Eating right, exercising, getting outdoors, and
not using our phones at the dinner table. These are all examples of common things that we try to do, so that are
children will follow suit. Why, so often is getting a good night’s sleep, not something that we try to show them,
explain to them, or even enforce?
Believe me, I know that kids can be a real pain when it comes to getting ready for bed. So often, that is because
the example for what should be done has never been shown to them, or you may have tried and given up out of
exhaustion. Feeling defeated at bedtime with your kids is often why families I work with have stopped enforcing a
consistent bedtime routine or never even tried one.
Now, I’ll bet that most of you reading this, have a very common routine for yourself before you go to bed. Wash
your face, brush your teeth, turn on your bedside light, read a book, fix your pillow, then lights off. This helps you
fall asleep. The same goes for babies and children, but they do not know that, unless we show them.
The Bedtime Routine. The number one way to help your child prepare for bed. You know that you have one, now it is time to help your child create one or bring one back that you had before. Then, stay consistent every night.
Set the example.
So, what should be a part of their routine?
- Bath, into pajamas, brush teeth, read a story or two, lights out and into bed. That is a great place to start with a child or baby. It is simple and straightforward. It cues their bodies for sleep. When you travel or they have a sleepover at the grandparents, it is something that can help them feel secure, because it stays the same. Plus, it keeps those bedtime struggles at bay.
- Next, talk to your toddlers and older children about the importance of sleep. Talk to them about how it is vital for
their development and their growth, just like eating is. You would not let your child eat a bowl full or gummy bears
every day for breakfast, so why let them stay up late every night just because they want to?
- Lead by example. After talking to your children about the importance of sleep, be the example of what they can
look up to. Get to bed at a decent hour, even if you want to binge watch something on Netflix. Turn off your
phone before you get into bed, even if you really need to check your work emails one last time. Tell them about
your bedtime routine, and how it prepares you for bed and helps you fall asleep at night.
Teaching these sleep skills and setting the example will go a long way in promoting their overall health down the