Why is it that when it’s time for children to go to bed, they fight against it. One of the biggest struggles for parents’ is to get children in bed and asleep at a decent time. From the website www.sleepforkids.org, sleep is the primary activity for the brain in early development of humans. For toddlers (1year to 3) their sleep time is 12-14 hours in a 24 hour day. For three to five year-olds, sleep time is 11 to 13 hours in a 24 hour day. For 5-12 years-old sleep time is 10 to 11 hours in a 24 hour period.
With the onset of so many working mothers with children attending pre-school and public school, rest for their bodies is so important. Here are some tools to help parents with the bedtime blues.
- Consistent and regular betimes: Half the battle is won if children know they have a required time to be in bed. If parents stick to consistent bedtime during the weekdays, then a regular sleep pattern is developed and children will get into the habit of getting into bed. Start young when children are a year or two and keep to that time each night. If parents are realizing their children need better sleeping habits later on in life then there is no time like the present to make a rule for better health. Pick a time at night which will allow children to sleep enough so they will be well rested and stick to that time. Circumstance won’t always allow for consistency but if parents follow a schedule most of the time, children will feel rested each morning.
- Exercise and play: When children are restless and have had no outside play time, going to sleep is almost impossible. Cut back the electronic games and indoor sitting by requiring your children to play at least one hour outdoors every day. In good weather most children will stay outside longer. When children run and play more during the day, then bedtime is more than likely welcome because they are so tired. With naturally hyper-active children running and playing outside helps regulate their bodies so they can be calmer inside. Insist that children play outside especially during the good weather days. You will never regret it.
- No Sugar or Caffeine products at Night: A big no-no for children is eating sugar before bedtime. This not only gives them a sugar rush, but going to sleep is difficult. Try healthy bedtime snacks and you will see a difference in their behavior. Cutting out all soda pops regardless of sugar or non-sugar content helps children’s immune system stay up. A healthy diet plays a big part in healthy children and no sugar or caffeine will help all children in getting enough sleep.
- Establish a regular fun bedtime routine: If children dread going to bed because they think they are going to miss out on something then make it more fun. I posted a list on the back of my bathroom door of what all nine of my children were expected to do before going to bed. Change into pajamas, brush their teeth and wash their hands and faces, get a drink of water all were listed and then I would read them several stories before going to bed. A bedtime story really helps a child to relax and many times children will fall asleep immediately following the story. When children are old enough to read on their own, they can get a certain time for reading their own books at night and then turn off the light so they can go to sleep.
Sleeping habits are so important for children to grow into healthy adults. Studies are showing that many adults are finding it more difficult to sleep. If parents teach their children to sleep better from a young age, then when they get to adulthood, their sleep will feel more rested.