Sometimes when all you want to do is sleep, it may seem as though your children have boundless energy. Realistically, it is often when they are bouncing off the walls at night that they are actually the most overtired. By following a few simple strategies, you can help your children relax before bedtime, ensuring your entire household a better night’s sleep.
Invoke Quiet Time
The Cleveland Clinic offers several tips for getting your children to sleep restfully, one of them being to implement an hour of quiet time prior to bed each night. This period of restfulness before sleep can include things such as listening to calming music or reading silently to themselves. Allow your child to choose activities he is interested in, so long as they are soothing activities that will not get him further riled up. Avoid anything which could be considered stimulating, such as watching television or playing violent video games.
Make Bedtime Expected
You can do your children a favor by establishing a bedtime and sticking to it. This consistency will help them to set their internal clocks, and maintaining firm rules around bedtime will create expectations they will quickly begin to recognize. If a child knows when to expect his bedtime each night, he is less likely to fight it, and may even get to a point where he will let you know it is time for bed.
Follow a Routine
Establishing a calming bedtime routine will help your child prepare for sleep. This can be something as simple as following a warm bath with story time each night before shutting out the lights. Maintaining the same routine night after night will provide internal cues to your child that it is time to start settling down for bed. This is also a good bonding time for you and your child, when your attention can be focused directly on him after a long or stressful day.
Remain Calm Yourself
If your child is fighting sleep and struggling to relax, it is important that you remain calm. Kevin A. Arnold, Ph.D., suggests picking your child up and rocking him as you did when he was a baby. He explains this is the technique he used with his own children, both because it helped remind them of the soothing calmness they felt in their parent's arms as infants, and because it reminded him of the same -- often helping him to calm, even in the midst of a frustrating nighttime tantrum.