Monday, September 21, 2009

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?

Dear Mom:

How do I get my kids to go to bed and stay there?

Sincerely,

Lost in the Quagmire


Dear Lost:

You didn't tell me if your children are up to the same old tricks; the glass of water, numerous trips to the bathroom, never being satisfied with one story, but I have a feeling these tricks are being played to their fullest, otherwise your children would be in bed-asleep.

You may even be dealing with the dreaded television monster. "But the movie doesn't end until later" sort of excuse. My oldest daughter has resorted to using "the monster" to get her children to stay in bed. Yes, the television is in her children's room. She plays "Finding Nemo" or "Cinderella" or something else equally entertaining to her children, and usually by nine they are out. She says she was tired of their old tricks and decided that movies were the only way they were able to relax and go to sleep.

Other mothers and fathers have resorted to horseback rides to the bedroom, even personal songs they have made up themselves to coax their children to sleep, while others use a tape or CD version of their children's favorite songs played only at bedtime. And then there are the joke parents, who tell their children funnies before retiring or the story parents who tell their children a story about their personal past-something kids love and always like, say the experts. Then there are the bath parents, who use warm water, perhaps with bubbles, to sooth the muscles of their children before they put them in bed and the special goodnight kiss and hug ritual begins.
Though some parents have resorted to lying down with their children before they go to sleep, 33 percent said one Parent Center survey, others, 23 percent; say they merely get upset with their children and have no idea what to do. Four percent "revoke privileges" while another 7 percent, "put up a gate or lock" on their child's door. Only 5 percent out of the 23,298 surveyed admit they "give up and let [their child] stay up late," while 19 percent have the courage to take their child back to bed "as many times as it takes," leaving 5 percent who extend "other" techniques when their "child refuses to go to bed" (www.parentcenter.com).

What does this say to you?

What I see is less than 20 percent of parents following through with a bedtime ritual.
The greatest thing we can do for our children is to develop a fun routine with them, say the experts; a routine parents and children have set up together. Every night bedtime is the same. The time is the same, the routine is the same; whether the routine includes a horsy ride to bed and a bedtime song or the infamous story read-perhaps in a squeaky voice for effect.

Whatever you decide to do, don't cave in to any excuses your child gives you, including tears when the time has come. Take your children back to bed and keep taking them back to bed every time they get up. Don't give up. In time, your children will see you not only mean business, but will look forward to what used to be the most dreaded of all times!

Happy bedtime!

Mom
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