Having trouble getting the kiddos to bed at night?  Is it constant battle?  Do you hear things like my tummy hurts, I’m thirsty, I had a bad dream, my head hurts, and as I’m sure you know, the list goes on.  We have a few methods that may be worth a shot.

First things first- Educate your child on why we sleep and why it is so important that we do so.  Sleep helps our body and brain grow and develop.  Your brain needs to sleep so you can remember what you learn in school, pay attention and concentrate, as well as be able to solve problems and think of new ideas.  Your body needs to sleep so your bones and muscles can grow and so your body can fight sickness.

How much sleep does your child need?
Children three to five years old- 11 to 13 hours of sleep per night
Children six to ten years old- 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night

Next, you need to explain how sleep works- While you are asleep your body and brain are hard at work getting you ready for another day of running on the playground, learning at school, playing with your friends, and spending time with your family.  You are just like a car: your gas tank is full in the morning but if you are going all day, eventually you will run out of gas and like a car you have to refuel.  A car is refueled when mom and dad take it to the gas station; you are refueled when you sleep at night.

Then explain what happens if they don’t get enough sleep- If you don’t get enough sleep you will forget what you learned about at school, it will be challenging to make good decisions, you will have a harder time playing sports, and you might get grumpy with mom or dad, or even a friend.

Sleep affects your Child’s ability to function:
Mood- They will become bad-tempered, fussy and irritable if they don’t get the proper amount of sleep.
Cognitive ability- They will have a hard time focusing, paying attention, and problem solving.
Behavior- They may become non compliant and disobedient.
Family- Their sleep problems will begin to affect the entire family.

Some kids really just can’t sleep.  If your kiddo has a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep they may have insomnia or some other kind of sleep disorder.  Start by trying to get them into a regular bedtime routine.  Every night at 7:30pm, for example, have them go take a shower, put on their pajamas, brush their teeth, and then read a relaxing bedtime story.  That will help the kiddos body to know that it is bedtime.  Don’t forget that they should not be eating or drinking too late at night.  Be sure to have a really dim nightlight if they have to get up to use the bathroom, that way they aren’t turning lights off and on.

Things to include in your bedtime routine:
-Bath/shower
-Cuddle time
-Talking about your day
-Reading/story telling
-Last trip to the restroom
-Kisses and hugs

Things to stay away from:

-Crazy time: No running around and acting wild, time to wind down
-Electronics: No TV, video games, computer time, especially not in the bedroom
-No food or drink before bed, especially caffeine

Make it fun- Making a bedtime chart can be a fun and effective way to get your kids to bed.  The chart should show every step of the bedtime routine.  Have images of story time, teeth brushing, and pajamas.  Let them check off the chart as they complete the steps for bedtime.  You can give your kids a free pass but be sure to remain as consistent as possible.  You can reward them for good behavior by taking them on special activities.

Good luck parents!