"I want a glass of water!"

Most of us could write a book about bedtime excuses. With our own energy levels dragging, those stall tactics aren’t usually met with smiles.

Staying up too late can have negative effects on a child’s appetite, mood and health. Early elementary students need about 10 hours of sleep. Studies show that children who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to struggle in school than their wide-awake peers and are more injury-prone.

Bedtime tips for the weary

Here are some ideas for getting your children into bed without a battle:

  • Keep it the same. Going to bed and getting up at the same times can help a child develop healthy patterns. Following a routine helps, such as putting on pajamas, brushing teeth and reading a story. The more familiar the patterns are, the more likely they are to be accepted.

  • Keep it quiet. Loud noise and rough play can make it harder for your child to settle down – and may remind him that playtime is more fun. Also, be sure to limit TV and computer before bed.

  • Keep it early. Starting the bedtime warning early helps some kids get into bed without getting into an argument. When the time comes, don’t hesitate. Let your child know that bedtime is not negotiable.

  • Keep it short. More than 30 minutes of preparation may distract kids, allowing more opportunities for whining and complaining. Longer preparation can cause frustration that the whole evening is taken up with bedtime activities. Keep your routine to a minimum so your child knows what to expect.

  • Keep it happy. Smiles and snuggles help your child value bedtime as one of the best parts of the day. If you pray together, thank God for your special child and the joy you get from him each day. Encourage and compliment him, telling him how much you love him. Putting bedtime in a positive light helps the whole family have a good night’s rest!

From the Focus on Your Child website (www.focusonyourchild.com). Published by Focus on the Family. © 2005 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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