bed time routine

Trish - posted on 09/24/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )




I am having such a difficult time at bedtime. My son is tired. We take a bath, watch a show, then bed....well in a perfect world this is how it would work. Mommy/Daddy one more show, crying whinning, running around, then I bring him to bed...lay with me, I need water, I need to pee, I get angry, then he cries, finally we hug ten times and finally finally he falls asleep an hour later. I'm a working mom and my nerves are shot. He gets nasty, then upset it's a vicous cycle. Please any advice would be more than welcome!!!!


Rebekah - posted on 09/24/2013




How old is he?

For what its worth, my son (7 yrs) will go through periods of stalling at bedtime too. Most of the time he cooperates, but we have our nights where tensions rise because he's taking FOREVER to brush teeth, get changed, etc. Most kids are not jazzed to go to bed.

Anyway, in our house, I have him stop using screens more than an hour before bedtime. The lights/stimulation from the shows or computer can keep the brain activated, and you don't want that right before bed. But perhaps you can use it as leverage for cooperation if he enjoys it that much. Maybe you can put an expectation there for him.... if he cooperates at bed time, he will get to see a show the next night. But if he stalls, tantrums, etc (get very specific about what behaviors he is not to do), then no TV the next day. And stick to it. You don't mention his age, but most kids will respond to a reward or cost/response system. He will probably have another fit the first night he has to forgo TV for tantruming the night before, but he has to see that you mean business, which means NO GIVING IN. Once he sees that, he will likely change his behavior so that he can earn the TV back. Just don't arrange the TV so close to lights-out time.

Another thought is to plan a different bedtime routine...and you can even do that together. I'm sure he would also like a more peaceful evening without the tears and drama. Decide together what order to do things in (bath, brush teeth, bedtime stories, etc). That will give him a say in it and hopefully be more invested. He can make a picture chart of things to accomplish and you could even set the timer for him to get things done by. If he completes everything on time, then he earns TV for the next evening. The quickest way to get my son to change in his PJs is to tell him I'm going to beat him by putting mine on. He gets changed in 20 seconds flat. Sometimes making things a game can diffuse the pressure associated with it.

By acting out, he's accomplishing his goal, which is to interact with you and delay bedtime as long as possible. Find out if he's afraid of the dark, or has scary thoughts at bedtime, or something else like that that he might be avoiding by trying to keep you involved with him. We have nightlights and a soundmachine (ocean sounds, other nature sounds). In the past, we've also used a lullaby CD to play as he drifts off to sleep. Otherwise, when my son get's "anxious thoughts" at bedtime, I've taught him techniques to self-soothe, and I try to promptly leave the room. When he was much younger, he would tell stories to his "bed friends" (favorite stuffed animals) until he fell asleep. Now that he's older, he gets a bit of "flashlight time" (reading books by flashlight for about 15 min...the darkness helps trigger the sleep cycle); after that, we do prayers and then I tell him the first part of a made up story...I leave it unfinished so that he has something to complete in his mind while he goes to sleep. Some nights that isn't enough to distract him from anxious or lonely feelings, and I will remind him of the self-soothing things he can do... progressive muscle relaxation or stretching, counting backwards, thinking of an animal for each letter of the alphabet, etc. He's good once he's in bed at this point... lately he's been stalling at toothbrush time...sigh. A work in progress.

So I don't have the answers for everything, but those are techniques that have been working for us. Note also that the techniques might work for a time and then you may have to change it up again, but be creative. I know bedtime can be stressful... everyone is tired and you just want to get that downtime for yourself too! Hang in there.

ASHLEY - posted on 09/24/2013




Each minute that he is late getting into bed by his bedtime make that how much earlier he needs to go to bed the night before. Just keep tacking it on. Or you can have the "bedtime fairy" start visiting him every night. Have Hine make a bag or something to hang either on his bed or on the wall & every night that he goes to bed on time without any trouble the "bedtime fairy" comes and brings a piece of candy (apiece of gum, smarties, a starburst, etc....)


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Trish - posted on 09/25/2013




I love the idea of making it a game! I also love love love the idea of the sleep fairy! He's almost 4 so he will totally be into both of those ideas. Thanks so much - it's nice to know you're not alone, it just gives you peace of mind to realize you're not the only one going crazy!!! I'll keep you posted!!

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