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How many times have you put your child to bed only to find yourself pulling your hair trying to figure out how to get them to stay there?  Unfortunately, many parents lack an understanding for proper bedtime procedures and have a difficult time getting their children to follow the bedtime ritual.

First of all, for young children, bedtime can be a scary thing.  All of a sudden, they’re all alone.  During the day, they have someone watching them constantly, never being left alone.  Then, when darkness comes, they are put into a room all by themselves and are expected to stay there.  In order for your child to remain in his or her room, you’ll want to make sure that the room is comforting. 

To find out what may be a possible scare to your child, lie down on their bed and turn off the lights.  Look around you.  Is there anything in there that may possibly scare your child?  For example, if you have a street light shining through the window, you may see shadows of trees dancing across the wall.  To any young child, it could look like a monster.  You’ll want to fix anything that could be perceived scary to a young child.  Perhaps all you need is a dark shade on the window.  When you’re done looking around, you’ll want to close your eyes and listen for any strange noises and take care of them, as well.

A mistake that most parents lack is not having a bedtime routine.  Young children need a routine to go by.  To them, it’s comforting.  Therefore, establish a time in which you feel your child should be asleep by.  For a child of five, you might choose the time of seven-thirty.  You know they are up every morning by six a.m. and by being asleep by seven-thirty, it will allow them a possible ten and a-half hours to sleep.  Remember, young children need more sleep than adults. 

Once you’ve established a time, the next thing to do is establish a routine.  With the five-year old, you should have them brush their teeth at five minutes to seven o’clock.  This will get them to realize that bedtime is soon.  When they are done brushing and have cleaned up, set up another routine.  Perhaps it is reading before bedtime.  I spent a half-hour every evening, reading to my children before they went to bed.  Even if you only have a fifteen-minute timeframe in which to read to your child, do this each and every night.  It will be your child’s comfort period before bedtime.

After you’ve completed the routine you’ve set up and it’s time to leave your child to sleep, be consistent.  One of the main reasons children give their parents a hard time about bedtime is that they know they can get away with it.  If your child comes out of his or her room, put them back in the bed and explain it is bedtime.  The second time, put them back in their bed and continue this until your child stays in bed.  Do not yell at them or over do it on explaining bedtime.  If you do, they’re getting what they want.  They have their parent with them.  Instead, be consistent and if you are, they will learn that bedtime is bedtime. 

Remember, that no matter how much your child wants to stay up with you, they need their sleep and it is a parent’s duty to be firm on bedtime.  As long as you provide a comfortable bedroom for your child and are consistent with their routine and time to go to bed, your child will learn to go to sleep at the established time.  As your child gets older, you’ll want to adjust the time they go to bed, but stick to the routine and they will do fine.