As an adult who treasures that moment at the end of a long day when you can finally fall into your bed and close your eyes to welcome sleep, you may have a hard time understanding why your little one resists bedtime with such vehemence.
So let's discuss the typical reasons children don't want to go to bed, and you can determine which affects your children.
1. They're not tired
There is nothing worse for a child than being put to bed when they're wide awake! They'll do just about anything to prevent you from shutting out the light—one more book, one more glass of water, one more trip to the potty.
To determine if this is the issue for your little one, take a good look at your child's nap schedule, since a nap that occurs too late in the day will keep your child refreshed and alert far past the time for bed. An adjustment to time or length of daytime naps, plus more activity in the early afternoon, including outdoor play when possible, may help your little one to actually be tired when it's time for bed.
2. They're overtired
Often, children become tired quite early in the evening, around 6 to 7pm, but parents think it's just too early to put them to bed, or the family gets busy and two hours fly by without you realizing it. What happens in this case is that your child becomes so overtired that they get a second wind—propelling them into a wired-tired-can't-sleep state.
They're running on adrenaline and will need some help to wind down enough to allow their condition to transform into sleepiness. The solution to this dilemma is an earlier bedtime, preceded by a peaceful, hour-long pre-bedtime routine.
3. Too busy
Chasing a kid around for a day can wear out a triathlete, but these amazing little people never seem to want to stop their continual activity. They view the world as an endless supply of entertainment created just for them. The idea of giving up the next exciting endeavor—whatever that may be—to go to bed doesn't appeal to them in the least.
Creating a consistent and pleasant bedtime routine, plus avoiding any new or exciting toys or events just before bedtime can work wonders to help a too-busy child cooperate at bedtime.
4. Too curious
Children sometimes have a vision that when they are confined to their bed there are magical things happening in the rest of the house. As they lie in bed they are listening to people's voices, the television and sounds of activity in the house. Something convinces them that they really need to find out what's happening, since they are certainly missing out on something wonderful.
If you can keep the household quiet after your child is in bed, and use pleasing white noise or soft music to mask enticing noises, you may be able to keep your curious little one from coming out of bed to see what they're missing.
5. Is afraid of something
The dark, monsters lurking under the bed, the troll in the closet, the sounds of dogs barking outside, or the roar of a truck passing by. Because of their emerging intelligence and their active imagination this is a common age for fears to surface.
6. Lacks an enticing bedtime routine
I've already mentioned in previous posts (okay, I'll admit it... repeatedly) the importance of a bedtime routine for any child. If your little one resists getting ready for bed, the key word I've added for you here is enticing. A "good" bedtime routine is one that's reliable and predictable. A "great" bedtime routine is one that your child looks forward to each night and willingly participates in.
7. Wanting to be with you
The dark, quiet, lonely night is a time that separation anxiety often surfaces. Kids want to be with the people they love the most and with whom they feel safe and secure. Given a choice between being with their family, or being alone, almost all little kids will choose company.
The solution that unravels most bedtime battles
Parents today have demanding schedules and juggle tasks all day long. There's too much to do, and never enough time to do it. The bedtime routine often gets slotted as one more "thing to do" after which we can get on to yet another task on our never-ending to-do list.
I'd like to present you with a new way of looking at your child's bedtime routine as a wonderful opportunity for a nightly ritual of quiet connection and bonding. Sort of like a forced savings account—a daily slice of time out of a busy day, given to you so that you can bask in the joys of parenthood and build the foundation for a close lifetime relationship. Pretty heady stuff, when you look at it this way, isn't it?
Simply said, you must get your child ready for bed each and every night. The time will be spent, one way or another. Would you like it to be peaceful, nurturing and bonding – or rushed and stressful? You have the power to set the tone of your evenings, so why not choose a pleasant routine? You will enjoy it more, and your child will no longer resist bedtime –won't that be marvelous!
Originally posted on Elizabeth Pantley.