Let’s face it, bedtimes for kids (and parents) can become stressful for all. It can be a time when children decide to act out and display some negative behaviors. It is usually their way of communicating to us; they have an issue with bedtime. Or It may be because they wish to do something else prior to going to sleep. They may have a fear of the dark, or something totally unrelated may be on their minds but are currently unable to articulate this to you.
Whichever reason, it is an important part of the day to get right. Your whole evening and subsequent days ahead may depend on it.
There are a few simple ways we can try in order to ensure bedtime is a fun time instead of a chore.
It is important for kids and parents to be in the right frame of mind before even embarking on the bedtime routine. Give yourselves a head-start by creating an adult-led activity to do together -- maybe some drawing, a writing activity or a puzzle. It encourages focus and just brings their heart rate down a little.
Every household will have a varying routine with varying sets of expectations. Kids do need a routine in order to keep them operating within boundaries. If things do not go according to the routine, the scene can transform into a stressful one. To avoid potential stress, the trick here is to adjust your mindset to cater for differing scenarios. You may need to skip bath time one evening due to after-school clubs or other engagements. Try not to fret if your kid has not bathed on one night and has also forgotten to brush their teeth. Allow some flexibility.
Your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder; therefore, a strict routine will still need to be followed. But it may be worth adjusting your mind into thinking that he or she may go to sleep a little later than usual to allow for the routine to still take place. If time needs to be stuck to, maybe sacrifice one of the other parts of the routine. You are the expert. You know your child best.
In the eyes of some busy parents, this is often seen as a section of a routine to complete as quickly as possible. But for some kids, this can be their favorite part of the day. Try not to rush this part. This is a great opportunity for them to unwind in the comfort of a soapy bath. Purchase some fun products to boost their sensory exposure. Give them ample time to have a play but be firm when it is time for them to get out.
Having a fear of the dark is very common. There are plenty of nightlights readily available at affordable prices. Purchase a few and see which one suits your child. Having a little light just gives them a little control over what they can see. After all, being on your own in a pitch-black room must be incredibly daunting if you think about it? Reassure them that they are perfectly safe and that you are nearby.
Try to avoid reading the same stories repeatedly (unless this is part of their strict routine of course). Picking different weekly themes is a great way of not only keeping them interested but yourselves too – which is conveyed by how you read. Maybe pick Disney stories one week and then choose bedtime stories which were read to you when you were a child? Be as creative as you want.
Above all else, remain patient. Good luck!
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