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No More Yawns: Getting Kids to Sleep at Night

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April 16, 2012

It’s tough as a parent to get your child to fall asleep and stay in bed all night. They need a glass of water, want a tissue, have to go potty, want another kiss, or are afraid of something under the bed. The excuses can go on and on.

As a parent who experienced this, here are some tips we tried during our quest to get our child to sleep through the night. Hopefully one or more will resonate with you.

Determine Nighttime Needs

When I learned that my daughter wanted more night lights in her room because it was too dark, I obliged. It’s not a disco, but it is enough light to let her fall asleep without being afraid. Helping to address a child’s fears could be a step in the right direction to helping him or her get to sleep easily, and stay asleep until morning.

Establish a Set Time

Once it is time to turn off the light, plan to sit with your child for five minutes. It is okay to hold his hand, lie next to her, sing a song, or tell a story. The plan is to stick to the five minutes, giving your child a warning at the one-minute mark. Of course this time doesn’t have to be exact, the point is to establish a routine so you don’t have to sneak out or abruptly leave the room.

Remove Comfy Furniture

When my daughter was two, her room was also the guest room. My husband and I often stuck around for bedtime longer than necessary because we got too comfortable or fell asleep on the couch. I recommend that you remove the comfy furniture, and if you’re prone to dozing off, don’t lie down with your child.

Turn on the Hall Light

As children get older they start to tune in to the noises of nighttime. They may get scared by the sounds of the house settling, the phone ringing, or the television downstairs. Ease their fears by keeping on the hall light until you go to bed.

Walk Kids Right Back

If you have children who wander around the house, get up and walk them right back to their room. You will be tired. You will not want to get up. You will do anything to not want to get your exhausted body out of bed. But you need to tell the child you are the boss and they need to stay put.

Put Up a Baby Gate

If your child continues to wander the house, you may want to try a more drastic measure. According to parenting expert Amy McCready, Positive Parenting Solutions, put up a baby safe gate on your bedroom door. When a child realizes they cannot come in to our room, they will give up and go back to sleep. This approach, according to McCready, will not impact your child from a psychological standpoint. In fact, she said, “you will do more harm than good to your child if you don’t put up the gate and set parameters and boundaries.”

Helping our children to be part of the dialogue regarding bedtime is very important. They will feel special to be part of the discussion.

I hope that these tips are helpful to you. You may want to try some, or you may need to try all. Thankfully, my child now sleeps at night and doesn’t put up a fight when these measures are in place.

Good luck to you on developing a bedtime routine with your child.

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