Bedtime battles have a tendency to tire out parents just as much as kids. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 69 percent of parents reported that their child, ages zero to 10, had sleep problems at least a few nights a week, mostly centering around arguments about going to sleep or waking during the night.
Getting enough sleep is vital to your child's growth and development, not to mention your own sanity. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived kids get injured more often, they get sick more easily, their grades suffer -- and so do their moods.
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Keeping a regular, enjoyable bedtime routine will help cut down on your struggles and help make your home a more peaceful place, day and night.
1. Watch food and drink consumption.
Large meals can make it difficult to sleep, so give your child some time between dinner and bedtime to digest. Make sure your child stays away from sweets before bedtime and has no caffeine at least six hours prior to going to sleep.
2. Peace and quiet.
Avoid stimulating activities after dinner. This isn't the time for a game of ball or loud playing. It's a time to relax, sing songs, listen to music, or talk about your day.
3. Give advance notice.
Let your child know that bedtime is approaching, whether it's an hour or five minutes away. This puts him in the right mindset and lets him finish any tasks at hand.
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4. Make her room a place they enjoy.
Your child's room should be a place of comfort, joy, and relaxation -- a place that she wants to spend time. The temperature should be comfortable, and her clothes and blankets shouldn't restrict movement.
5. No television or computers at bedtime.
Studies have shown that kids who have televisions and computers in their rooms have a tendency to get less sleep than those who do not. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents who use the computer and watching television late at night are often doing so while drinking caffeinated beverages. The best solution is to remove these electronics from bedrooms, but if that's not possible, set a strict turn-off time, and (as mentioned previously) don't allow caffeine consumption around bedtime.
6. Establish a nighttime routine.
Create a routine that's enjoyable and that your child will associate with bedtime. It should be a manageable length of time, about 20 to 30 minutes a night, and can involve elements that you and your child deem important (bath, story, cuddling, lights out, etc). Relaxing books offer a wonderful way to set the mood and to show your child the value of reading.
Are you the parent of a newborn? Click here for must-know information about getting your baby to sleep.
Kate Silver for Parents.com