Created on: January 27, 2013 Last Updated: January 28, 2013
Children need and want boundaries and structure. Although they may struggle against restrictions and rules, by enforcing them you give your child a sense of security. Establishing a bedtime and insisting on it within reason is an important part of your household's well being. It benefits not only the child, but the parents as well.
Since the requirements and situations of families differ, there is no set answer for an appropriate bedtime. Parents can use age sleep requirements as a guideline and set their schedule accordingly. Although routines can't be kept every day, you can make an effort to stick to them as much as possible.
Children older than four months or so have an internal clock, or circadian rhythm. You want it to revolve around a twenty four-hour day to avoid children becoming tired and cranky during daily activities. By nature, our bodies revolve around a twenty five-hour day, so setting bedtimes as well as awake times will help your child stay in sync with the twenty four-hour world.
Make getting enough sleep, particularly for the children, a family priority. Establish a daily schedule and settle into the routine. There are certain calming activities that help relax children before bedtime. Reading a book and taking a bath will ease your child into slumber. Have a time limit for these activities, and stick to it despite the inevitable pleading. Parents need to present a united front and parent as a team. Set boundaries; in doing so, you provide your youngster with a safe and secure feeling.
Children's bedtimes will change as they grow older. But the earlier you begin a bedtime routine, the easier it will be to enforce later. Family members have a right to know what's expected of them, and a set time for going off to bed is no exception. Make sure your little one is dressed comfortably, has a pleasant place to rest and is free from distractions. It can be difficult, but little ones need to learn to self soothe. After a hug and kiss, give them a favorite toy to cuddle and a night light if needed. Then insist they stay in bed until they fall asleep. Be prepared for some fights, and remember consistency wins the race.
Recognize if your child isn't getting enough rest and adjust your schedule accordingly. If he is regularly cranky and out of sorts, adjust nap times and bedtime so that he is well rested for activities. This will be particularly important when he starts school. Everyone has a bad night now and then, but you want him alert when the school bell rings.
Again, there is no set answer for establishing the perfect bedtime. Parents have to find the right combination of nap and bedtimes that work for their family. Keep adjusting the schedule until you're comfortable with the outcome.
Learn more about this author, Cindy Abbate.
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