Guest Blog by Krista Harper
There are many joys to be had in parenthood, but an exhausting bedtime routine is not one of them. Furthermore, the longer you allow a bedtime routine to drain your energy, as well as your child’s, the harder it will be to transition to a more fulfilling one.
So, before you settle for an exhausting bedtime routine, consider these 7 tips to make bedtime a time of relaxation, as opposed to a battleground.
- Maintain consistency.
Especially with smaller children whose ability to verbalize isn’t developed, keeping a consistent sleep schedule will help your child’s body to recognize bedtime, due to a shift in their circadian rhythm. You can also maintain consistency by incorporating bedtime cues to your routine, such as reading a certain book, a warm bubble bath, or a sleep-friendly snack.
- Consider CBD oil.
If your child tends to become anxious at bedtime, regardless of your efforts to make it more soothing, you might consider trying CBD oil for anxiety and to help them focus on preparing for bed.
Still controversial to many, recent research shows that CBD oil can effectively alleviate anxiety symptoms in children and may ease the effects of PTSD. However, speak with your pediatrician to discuss possible side effects and dosage.
- Alleviate “lights out.”
Sometimes, the worst part of bedtime is not getting your child into bed but keeping them happy once they get there. Sudden and complete silence and darkness can really get a child’s imagination running wild.
You can alleviate anxiety in your child by reducing the “sound of silence” and total darkness with white noise and a night light.
- Offer positive reinforcement for target behaviors.
Regardless of the cause of your child’s resistance to bedtime, don’t focus on the resulting behaviors that cause the most trouble at bedtime. Instead, take a solution-based perspective and pinpoint ways to reinforce cooperative behavior.
Healthy target behaviors that will make bedtime less exhausting include using a quiet voice, following directions with only 1 or 2 reminders, or asking nicely for things.
- Offer choices.
Although it needs to remain clear who’s the parent and who’s the child by setting boundaries at bedtime, it often helps to reduce acting out by providing options, such as choosing which book to read or which pajamas to wear. Integrating choice into bedtime will help your child feel less “trapped” about having to end the day and go to bed.
- Engage about the day.
Talking briefly with your child about the highs and lows of the day is a good way for them to articulate their thoughts and feelings, in order to relieve the anxiety that may have built up during their waking hours.
Reviewing the day with your child can begin a healthy, lifelong practice of taking a nightly inventory of daily events and evaluating how stressful situations can be avoided in the future.
- Provide closure.
Once your bedtime routine is complete and it’s time to turn out the lights, the state only once that your child is to only come out of their room in the case of an emergency. Make it clear that there is no conversing once you’ve left the room.
Periodically, every child will have a considerably harder time falling asleep than others and may seek your comfort for disturbing thoughts. However, help your child understand that they need to use discretion when choosing what warrants leaving their room after lights out.
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