Sunday, January 20, 2008

Enforcing bedtime for your children

We spent years trying to get our son to go to bed and stay in bed. Every night we dreaded bedtime. We waited until he was so tired he would start to fall asleep or until he became grumpy we knew he was tired. Then tried to get him to go to bed and stay there. It would end up with me fighting a grumpy tired child. He was so over tired he was impossible to deal with or get to sleep. I was going out of my mind.

We tried every thing. Lots of physical activity so he would be tired, soft music, bath before bed, anything someone told me to try. Nothing worked. It all started when he was a baby and Dad worked nights. We all ended up being on the night shift. It was too hard so we changed to a normal day schedule. Our son was very resistant. A year latter he was still trying to stay up at night. He never wanted to go to bed. He ruled the house. We had not time for ourselves, and very little sleep most of the time. When his little sister was born we hit a breaking point. He would be up to 10 or 11 at night and she would be up at the latest 6 am.

The house was not a fun place to be. Every one was suffering from sleep deprivation. It took very little for tempers to explode over the littlest things. We were all impossible to deal with. It went from frustration to anger because he would not go to bed. It was a bad place to be. Screaming and time outs does not help get children to go to bed, it just made things worse. No one liked bedtime in our home.

I went to some parenting classes and what do you know, the most common parent issue was children’s bedtime. We were all going through the same thing; our children did not want to go to sleep. We found out that we did not have good sleep routines. We had to learn the importance of a good sleep routine. What we had was inconsistent bedtime routines the result were very frustrated children and parents.

We needed to have a consistent routine so our children knew what was expected from them, and had the security of knowing what was going to happen next. Routine means security to most children. So we had to set a bedtime routine. Turn the TV off, toothbrush, PJ’s on, story time, monster check, then into bed with favourite stuffed animal. We needed to do this every night at the same time. Our wants had to take second place to our sons need for a consistent routine.

It usually only takes a few weeks for the change to take place, for us it was months. We had to learn how to be consistent, some times it was just too much to deal with and we would slide back. It only works if the parents are both working with the same routine, both in time and activities. Other wise the child is still confused. Finally we learned and got our act together as parents. We started getting him to bed by 9 pm. Then we were able to move it back by about 15 minutes every few weeks. Both our son and daughter go to bed between 7 and 7:30 every night. The struggle we went through to build a good sleep routine paid off. It was worth going through a few weeks of stress to get a good routine established.


  1. i read ur post. my husband and i haven't been able to agree on bedtime rules, he feels they can stay up forever-i don't think so.he asks "what is the reason for children going to bed early or at a particular time especially since our boys don't go to school?"
    do you have an idea?what is the advantage of children going to bed early and at a particular time?

  2. We put our kids to bed between 7 and 8, usually start bedtime at 7 and everything is done by 7:30 or 8 depending on the day.