Bedtime can be one of the most challenging and daunting times of the day and really doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you have got your Toddler into bed, don’t close his bedroom door, leave it open. Many children can be afraid of the dark for no reason at all. Therefore, it will be reassuring for him if he wakes up in the middle of the night, and doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family. Pitch blackness can be very intimidating and scary for a young child.
In any case, virtually all young children do not need complete darkness to sleep. When they are tired, they will sleep anywhere, even in bright sunlight. How many times have you seen a small child fast asleep in his parent’s arms, in the middle of the day? It can also be a good discipline for later on in life. My theory is that it may well help keep your child with an ‘open’ attitude to you and others, as he grows older. Hopefully it will help avoid him trying to always close himself off in his bedroom when he is a teenager, and distancing himself from the rest of the family. It’s amazing how something as simple and unscientific as this, can help promote good habits, later on in life. And these habits definitely last in later years.
I always found that our children didn’t need silence to sleep. Young children sleep if they are tired, and if they are not, then they don’t. It can be reassuring for your young child to hear normal family background noise when they go to sleep, so they do not feel cut off at bed time. It also means that your family can continue its normal household (sometimes noisy) routines in the evening. It is very important for your child’s development that he is raised in as normal household environment as possible. It goes without saying that normality is relative, and based on your particular religion and culture
Sometimes a little night light in the background, or even just the bathroom light, particularly when your child is very young, will prevent him becoming afraid of the dark. Because he has this light on, as he grows older, darkness should never become an issue for him.
Bedtime can be a stressful time for you, but you don’t really need to worry, as once you have got your Toddler into bed, if he is tired, he will go to sleep. You don’t need to close his door either. Many children can be afraid of the dark for no reason at all. Therefore, it will be reassuring for him if he wakes up in the middle of the night and doesn’t feel cut off from the rest of the family. Pitch blackness can be very intimidating and scary for a young child.
In any case, most young children do not need complete darkness or silence to sleep. When they are tired, they will sleep anywhere, even in bright sunlight in a noisy store or park. How many times have you seen a small child fast asleep in his parent’s arms or a pram, in the middle of the day? Leaving his door open can also be a good discipline for later on in life. It may well help keep your child with an ‘open’ attitude to you and others as he grows older. It should help avoid him trying to always close himself off in his bedroom when he is a teenager and distancing himself or becoming aloof from the rest of the family. It’s amazing how something as simple and unscientific as this, can help promote good habits, later on in life. And these habits die very hard in later years.
Children don’t need silence to sleep. Young children sleep if they are tired, and if they are not, then they won’t go to sleep. It can be reassuring for your Toddler to hear normal family background noise when he goes to sleep, so he does not feel cut off at bed time. It also means that your family can continue its normal household (sometimes noisy) routines in the evening. It is very important for your child’s development that he is raised in as normal household environment as possible. It goes without saying that normality is relative and based on your particular religion and culture. You will also feel less stressed as you will not be trying to keep other children quiet or keeping the general level of noise down.
A little night light in the background, particularly when your child is very young, will also help prevent him becoming afraid of the dark. Because he has this light on, as he grows older, darkness should never become an issue for him.
When you tuck your Toddler in at night, always kiss him ‘good night’, and when you go and greet him the next day, kiss him ‘good morning’ as well. If you do this from birth, it will become second nature to you both. It is yet another little brick in the castle of emotional ties that you are building up with your child, which will stay with both of you for the rest of your lives. Even if your child is asleep when you do this, subconsciously he will know and sense you have done it. It will also allow you both to close off the old day, and start an exciting new one together, the next morning.
This habit will last all the way through to adulthood, and if you happen to forget one night, you can be sure your child will remind you. I once had an embarrassing episode with my daughter, while I was taking an evening phone call from a potential new employer. I had answered the call before I had kissed her goodnight. She was 3 years old at the time.
I was downstairs trying to sell myself for this particular new job that I wanted and she was standing at the gate to her bedroom shouting “kiss me goodnight Daddy”. I could hear her very clearly, but was trying to remain focussed on the call. Eventually having been distracted for about 15 minutes, the call was about to end and the person interviewing me said “next time you should say goodnight to your child before you do a phone call like this”. I was shocked as I thought she couldn’t hear my Toddler. I then stumbled out some lame excuse, about why I hadn’t said goodnight to my daughter yet, before saying goodbye to my interviewer. I didn’t get the job by the way, so be warned…..
This and many more anecdotes and tips are in my Book Help I’m a Father, by Mark Hearn, which is available through Amazon
When you have children, it really is a full time job, so anything that can make things run smoother and more efficiently has to be welcomed. This seems such a simple thing, that you can actually forget it, but actually this really works, particularly if you introduce it from a very early age.
Regulate bedtimes from an early age, right up to the age of 16 which should be, as a guideline, 10.00pm. 15 Minutes extra should be given for every birthday reached. For example at age 4, your child’s bedtime should be 7.00 pm, or at 13, it will have progressed to 9.15pm. Start this as soon as he goes to school, when he is 4 or 5 years old. By doing this from such an early age and sticking to it rigorously, bedtimes and going to bed will never become a controversial issue. It is considered non-negotiable as it has always been like that throughout your child’s life, so as a result he will comply without question.
Once you have established this routine in your child’s life, introducing a system of giving him 15 minutes warning before bedtime will make your life even easier. This pre-warns him and will allow him to finish the game he is playing, or the TV program he is watching and be ready to go to bed on time. This way, he will not argue with you once his bedtime has arrived.
Of course, another benefit for you and your partner, is that you will always know that you can relax and have some quality time together every night, at a certain time in the evening, once your child has gone to bed.
Don’t forget to kiss your child goodnight every night, otherwise it could be very costly, as I once found out. I had been to two interviews with a potential new employer, and was waiting for a phone call from the company to offer me the job. It was agreed that I would be called that evening.
I had just put my 3 year old child to bed when the phone rang. I rushed downstairs and grabbed the phone without thinking. I was so keen to be offered a new position. I picked up the phone and started speaking with the interviewer. After a couple of minutes, and when our conversation was in full flow, I heard “kiss me goodnight Daddy” being shouted out by my young child. It’s amazing how loud a child’s voice can be when they want something!
I tried to remain focussed on the call and continue ‘as normal’. Eventually after about 15 minutes of being distracted, (I thought the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t hear the shouting), the call was about to end. The person interviewing me said, “next time you should say goodnight to your child before you do a phone call like this”. I was shocked, and stumbled out some lame excuse, before saying goodbye to my interviewer.
I didn’t get the job, needless to say, so be warned!
How many times have you had to argue with your child when it is bed time, despite your child knowing exactly what time he is supposed to go to bed? However, as I’m sure you know, getting your child to finally go to bed, and on time, can be a real mission. But it doesn’t have to be! By giving your child a warning period of 15 minutes before he is due to go, it will avoid conflict and hassle when the time actually arrives.
First of all, you need to have introduced set bed times for your child from when he starts to go to nursery school. In any case he will need regular and sufficient sleep once he goes to school, as he will now be officially learning, and being academically educated. He needs to be fresh for school if he is to learn well, so bedtimes become very important.
Often your child will say to you, when it is time to go, “can I just finish this program or game”, or “I’m nearly finished”, or “just a few more minutes please”. Then it can easily escalate into an argument if you say no. But by using this method every night, it just becomes the normal routine, and non negotiable. It definitely makes your life easier and less stressful, and helps your child.
How often have you had a battle with your child over bedtime? “Can I just finish that TV program?” or “I’ve nearly finished my game” are just a couple of delaying tactics. By starting young, and creating a non negotiable routine, bedtime can be permanently enjoyable for you and your child, and not a source of disagreements.
Start when your child is about 4 years old, when he starts to go to nursery school, and introduce the ‘rule’ of going to bed at 7.00 pm. Once you have done this, make sure you always give about 15 minutes notice before bedtime. This will allow your child to finish what he is doing, whether it is a game he is playing or a TV program he is watching.
Once you have started regular bedtimes, you can introduce a later bedtime for every birthday that is reached. Each year the time goes back 15 minutes, so at age 10, it is 8.30 pm, then it continues up to the age of 16 when it becomes 10.00 pm. After this age, your child will go to bed when he wants, although you should try to keep a routine during term time.
If you introduce this routine very early on in your child’s life, it will never become an issue. It will also ensure that you and your partner get some quality relaxation time together in the evening, once the children are in bed, when you can really focus on each other.