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How To Get Your Child To Bed On Time

May 27, 2008
There many different ways to go about this and unfortunately there is not one correct way to do this. Each child is an individual and as such will present different challenges, especially since family dynamics will be different in every family due to the unique ages, sexes and number of kids in each family.

My family has four children, three boys and a girl. As I write this article the boys are wrestling in the lounge (something that I don't endorse however it is a bit hard as boys will be boys). It is Saturday evening so my kids are allowed to stay up late. I don't have a bed time for the kids in the week end, but that is up to the individual as whether they want to do this or not.

Often, if children know that you will be flexible, say, in the week ends, they are more likely to do the right thing during the week. You should start forming patterns when the kids are young if at all possible. I realise this is easier said than done sometimes, especially when you have multiple kids to look after. However, putting in the hours when the kids are young will ensure that things are easier as the kids get older.

My nine year old still has trouble going to bed on time sometimes. She is a dreamer and often doesn't quite make it to bed on time, even though I have tried numerous strategies over the years. One month we will try star charts. she gets five stars then she gets a reward like perhaps $2.00 to spend at the tuckshop at school.

When you are first starting out to encourage a good behavior you should make the rewards more frequent. However, as the child learns you can spread out the rewards and make them less frequent. It's just like training a puppy - we use exactly the same principle.

With my daughter I use the star chart for a couple of weeks then I find that it loses its appeal. That's when I change to something else for her. If something ceases to be effective, behavior that we require.

It is also important to let the child know exactly what your expectations are for them. Tell her, "Rebekah, I expect you to be in bed by 8.30pm". Once you tell them this, make sure that they are doing quiet activities leading up to bed time and not playing computer games or watching television right before bed. They need to give their brains a chance to slow down for the night.

Also, give them frequent reminders leading up to bed time, so that they are aware of how much more time they have left. This should be mainly for younger children. As they get older they should be taught how to look at the clock to see how long they have left before bed time.

Sometimes Becky just doesn't get to bed on time for several nights running and that is when I give her a consequence. Each child will have their own currency (something that they really love that you can deprive them of). For Becky that is pretty clothing. So, when she repeatedly is late to bed for no good reason I simply take some of her favourite clothes from her and put them up in the cupboard.

It is important for me not to enter into debate here, because Becky always has some story about why she is late for example, "I had to get a drink of water". I never enter into conversation at this stage otherwise Becky thinks that she has a chance of getting me to change my mind. I also don't get emotional, I simply take her clothes without fussing. This teaches Becky that there is a consequence for doing the wrong thing.

Becky absolutely knows the drill. She gets very upset when I confiscate her clothes. But she also knows that if she goes to bed on time the next night, I might be lenient and give her clothes back a bit sooner than previously promised. It is good to give kids the chance to lessen a consequence.

It is also important to make sure that you talk to your children before bed time, as in communicate with them. If you miss this kids will often demand more attention at bed time and that is not what you want. You should be aiming to have a smooth transition to bed time, especially if you have more than one kid to get off to bed.

Parenting is a progressive thing. with each experience you have you can choose to learn from it or otherwise. Learn to listen to your children, always be willing to learn and do things differently and you will raise happy kids who are eager to be obedient.
About the Author
Kim Patrick is a single mum with four children who lives on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is author of the book, "Get Your Child To Behave In 30 Days Or Less". For more information on how to get your child to behave, you can go to http://www.mychildcanbehave.com/main.html
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