Why the bedtime ritual is a powerful moment of connection with your kids

Bedtime is perfect for providing the quiet space needed for kids to use their voices, express themselves, talk about doubts or fears, tell you about silly things that happened or share their favorite parts of the day.

Why the bedtime ritual is a powerful moment of connection with your kids

A consistent bedtime routine helps children sleep better and longer, according to research. Beyond that, bedtime rituals can be beautiful, powerful ways to bond and connect with young children. Scientists suggest that bedtime routines are largely composed of relational work that helps children grow their capacity for "communion with others."

Most parents acknowledge that the quiet consistency of a bedtime routine is comforting and calming for their children, but parents rarely reflect on the effect the bedtime routine has on themselves. At least one research study suggests that regular routines buffer/decrease parenting stress, which in turn has a positive effect on children's emotions, behavioral regulation and readiness to learn.


Here are some of the ways bedtime benefits your kids:

  • Reading books gives kids the touch they need through cuddling and lap sitting. Book time also helps kids learn new concepts, language and pre-reading skills.
  • Brushing teeth and putting on pajamas helps kids build independence and skills for self-care.
  • Getting little ones that last drink of water, fixing their blankets and tucking them in reinforces your role as their nurturing caregiver.
  • Telling your children that you love them, that you're proud of them, and that you notice all the little positive things they are doing reminds them that, despite any conflicts or tense moments, they will always be your favorite people in the world.
  • Giving a good night hug communicates love and kindness without saying a word.

While all these are great, perhaps the most important bedtime ritual is taking the time to listen to young children.

Bedtime is perfect for providing the quiet space needed for kids to use their voices, express themselves, talk about doubts or fears, tell you about silly things that happened or share their favorite parts of the day.

Kids spend much of their days being talked to or taught, but it's also essential to create some space for them to lead the conversations. Listening at bedtime leaves room for kids to tell you the stories of their lives without the pressure of answering direct questions (like “how was school?" or “who did you play with at recess?"). It strengthens your bond and initiates a healthy conversation pattern that can persist through to adulthood.

Not all young kids spontaneously open up. Reviewing the day with them and leaving giant pauses in the discussion carves out space for your child to comment on the moments that really stuck with them.

The day-in-review can include:

  • Sensory details—“Brrr, it sure was cold outside" or “We really got stuck in the gooey mud on that nature trail" or “Wasn't that soup spicy tonight?"
  • Logistical details—“Remember how we weren't allowed in the deep end of the pool today?" or “I was surprised when the bus dropped you off late."
  • Social details—“That was neat to have Jane over today—she really liked your baby doll" or “I've been thinking about Joe's birthday party coming up—what we should get him?"
  • Emotional details “I was so surprised when Grandma stopped by! What fun to see her!" or “I was disappointed that the game was rained out today".

Reviewing the day can help kids process experiences and remember anything they wanted to tell you.

Wishing you many sweet dreams, and sweet bedtime routines!

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