Ah, the dreaded bedtime hassle. Most of us have been down this road and it has worn us and our child plain out. So, how do we stay positive when our child flat out refuses to go to bed? We find a solution that works for both of us and also empowers the child.
So how do we do that? We establish a routine. It is one of the most powerful forms of limit setting that parents can do with their children and it will also eliminate the power struggles and will give all of the family members ways to belong and also contribute to the family. This not only applies to bedtime but also things such as morning routines and jobs around the house. And the great news is that once the routines are in place, the routine becomes the "dictator" and the parent is then able to step back and let the routine do the talking instead of them doing the nagging and yelling.
So how do you go about setting the routine? You compile a list of things that need to be done together before going to bed. Give your child the opportunity to take the lead on this and if they forget anything you can simply say “What would come after dinner, brushing your teeth, etc.?” And when they are through the bedtime routine could look something like this: dinner, bath time, pajamas, brush teeth, choose clothes for the next morning (as this will also help in eliminating morning power struggles and saves time), story time, and some snuggle time before turning out the lights. Once you have this chart created you then take a picture of your child doing each task and help them paste the picture next to each task. Most children love to see themselves doing each task and will more than likely eagerly follow their own routine. It is important to also make sure that they have a big part in creating this routine chart even verbally, and also writing it if they are able and if not able maybe coloring part of it. Another big tip to help the routine chart become successful is allow enough time for each task and keep the mood light and fun. No rushing, and no nagging. A few nights of this and what was once a negative experience for both you and your child will more than likely turn into a positive experience that both you and your child look forward to every night. It is also important to note that most routines need to involve the family or at least one of the parents. Do not leave the night time routine and your child alone in a room and expect them to follow it….part of the joy of having this routine is that they get to spend this extra special time with one of their loved ones right before they drift off to sleep. What could be better than that for both you and the child?
May you be one step closer to creating the connection that you want with your child.Tonja 🙂