After the boogie monster checks, the final trips to the bathroom and an extra bedtime story or two, some kids may still claim they’re not tired enough to sleep. The good news is that parents can take steps to improve a bedtime routine and make the prolonged tuck-in time worth the effort.
The first step is to establish a proper routine that will automatically be associated with sleep in the Pavlovian sense. The National Sleep Foundation reports that consistent and organized bedtime routines allow kids to form strong sleep associations that make it easier and more natural for children to fall asleep.
A wild game of Twister is not the best choice for a post-dinner activity. Evening time should be reserved for low-key individual activities like reading or tying up loose ends on homework assignments. It’s best to stay away from family board games that will rile kids up.
Parents can start the “winding down period” up to thirty minutes before bedtime, using softer voices and dimming lights around the house. Generally if the same order of activities is followed at bedtime, kids’ brains will become progressively cued for sleep as soon as the “winding down period” begins. If the final trip to the bathroom is the conclusive portion of a routine before that last goodnight, parents should not cave to pleas for another bedtime story or snack after the kids have returned from the bathroom. The key is to maintain consistency in the order of events until kids learn that stalling will not buy them anything extra.
Finally, laptops, electronic tablets and cell phones should be kept out of bed as they stimulate kids’ senses and make it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Although it may be next to impossible to keep all electronics out of bedrooms, parents can instill a zero tolerance policy for screen time in bed.