The Importance of a Bedtime Routine

Last time I shared the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding the amount of sleep children need at various stages of development. So how can we help them meet those recommendations?  First and foremost we have to establish a regular bedtime routine.  Children thrive with routine.  In fact, most behavior problems begin when kids are out of their normal routine and in a period of transition from one activity to another.  So put into place a bedtime routine that is manageable for you as a parent…one that you can faithfully execute nightly.  Decide what will be important for you and your child.  It may include bathtime, a bedtime story, songs, relaxing music, hugs and kisses, and then lights out.  Make the routine one you and your child  look forward to and then stick to it regularly.  It will eliminate a nightly negotiation of how and when to get ready for bed. Be careful about a few things.  Don’t use television as part of the bedtime routine.  There is research that suggests that the light and stimulation from the television inhibits good sleep.  It is important to help your child learn to self-soothe, that is learn to relax herself and let herself drift off to sleep on her own, in her own bed.  If your child is getting into the habit of climbing into your bed at night, work with him to help him learn to sleep through the night in his own bed.  That may mean getting up repeatedly to put him back in his own bed until he is sure you mean it!  This helps him gain confidence in his abililty to soothe himself.  This is an important step for both of you toward a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

What do you include in your child’s bedtime routine?

About Gretchen Derda (Woosley), MSW, LCSW

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in a private psychotherapy practice where I specialize in work with families and children. My focus is to help families improve their functioning so that each member of the family can reach their full potential, becoming the persons they were meant to be.
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