Solving Bedtime Struggles: Tips for Parents of School-Age Children

A good night’s sleep is essential for school children. Poor sleep can cause various problems, including lack of focus, difficulty sitting still, indecisiveness, disruptive behaviour, social issues, and reduced academic ability.

Younger children may become hyperactive and impulsive when sleep-deprived, displaying symptoms that mimic attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), often resulting in a misdiagnosis. Children with ADHD may particularly struggle at bedtime and even throughout the night to sleep.

For many parents, establishing an appropriate bedtime routine can be challenging. Children with strong wills or those who use delay tactics, such as asking for another drink or a trip to the bathroom, can make bedtime a prolonged affair. In some cases, bedtime can take up to two hours, especially if a parent needs to stay with the child until they fall asleep. This can lead to late bedtimes and no personal space for the parent or time for other children.

However, improving a child’s bedtime routine and setting firm yet fun and loving boundaries can result in a happier child both at home and school. If your child struggles with bedtime, there are a few simple tips you can employ to make this time more enjoyable and easier for both of you.

Tips for Better Bedtimes

1. Daily Outdoor Activity: Ensure your child spends time outside every day and engages in physical exercise at least once a day. This helps them burn off energy and prepare their bodies for rest.

2. Mindful Eating and Drinking: Be cautious about what your child eats and drinks close to bedtime. High-sugar foods and caffeinated drinks, such as hot chocolate, can make it harder for a tired child to settle down.

3. Quality Time: Spend ten to fifteen minutes of focused time with your child when you come home after being apart. This attention helps them feel seen and heard, making them more likely to cooperate at bedtime.

4. Consistent Bedtime Routine: Establish a regular bedtime to give your child a clear message about when it’s time to sleep. A consistent routine helps regulate their body clock.

5. Calm Environment: Create a calming bedtime environment. This could include dimming the lights, reading a story together, or talking about each other’s day.

Seeking Help

If you find it difficult to improve your child’s bedtime routine on your own, don’t hesitate to seek extra support. Reaching out for help can give you the confidence and tools to make positive changes. With gentle, loving, and responsive steps, bedtimes can improve significantly.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch, and let’s work together to improve your child’s bedtime routine and sleep. A good night’s sleep is crucial for your child’s well-being, and there is support available to help you achieve this.

As a dedicated specialist in children’s sleep, I understand the struggles parents face at bedtime. With my guidance, you can establish a bespoke bedtime routine that works for your family. I am here for you so reach out today and take the first step towards better bedtimes and better sleep for all.

Jo-Anne Dietrich
Happy Nights Infant Sleep Consultant
Certified Infant Sleep Specialist, and Potty Training Consultant
NNEB National Nursery Nurse, Nanny (CACHE Early Years Diploma), Maternity Nurse,
International Association of Child Sleep Consultant Member

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