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Put a stop to the bedtime run around

Updated on August 3, 2010

 We've all been there. It's time to tuck your little one down for the night when it happens.

The seemingly endless list of excuses children use to stay out of bed:

  • I'm thirsty
  • I have to go potty
  • I need a bedtime snack
  • Just one more story
  • I'm not tired
  • Can't I play just a little bit longer?

There are those children who will get up out of bed so many times a parent loses count. Once they think you aren't looking; out of bed they pop to do whatever it is they feel is more important than sleeping.

The constant demands or relentless requests, the defiant sneaking out of bed... what is a parent to do?

Here are some solutions to help ease that troubled time of the day which may just bring you a little extra peace and much needed rest:

  1. Have a set bedtime and stick to it.  Children need the consistency and stability it provides.
  2. Have a bedtime routine. Write down the list of events in order for bedtime and post them up.  (Use pictures for younger children)  This visual aid helps children get into the habit of taking care of everything that needs to be done before tuck in time.  Items on the list can include things like: take a bath, put on your pajamas, brush your teeth, go potty, get your bedtime drink.
  3. Remember that actions speak louder than words.  When your child gets out of bed, just take their hand and bring him/her back to bed.  Repeat this as many times as you need to until your child stays in bed.  Don't get angry, yell, or respond to questions or requests. Silence is the key on this one.  Once you've said "good night" stop talking.  For children who sneak out of bed a lot - it is important that you stay near their bedroom door.  Face away from them, only responding when you hear him/her get out of bed and only to put them back.  This method can take anywhere from 3 nights to a week to see results.  Be firm and patient, you will see a change in bedtime behavior.
  4. Stay away from candies, sugar, and caffeine 4 or 5 hours leading up to bedtime.  Adding these to your child's evening will create a more difficult transition into winding down for rest in your child.  Give your child a greater chance of success by eliminating these from evening consumption.
  5. Avoid watching scary or action packed movies, TV programs, or video games in the later evening.  These forms of entertainment will stimulate your child's mind rather than calm it. While the child may be sitting still, their brain is being put into "high gear".  Instead try to institute things such as classical music and/or quite reading time.
  6. Use dim and natural lighting leading up to bedtime.  During the time of year when the days are longer put up curtains to help dim the room.  Too much light can affect the production of melatonin, which aids in sleep and growth during the night.  By cutting down on the amount of light illuminating your home and your child's room, you will be assisting his/her brain in the preparation for sleep.

 Be patient, be calm, and be consistent.  In no time you'll have the kind of smooth evening you've always wanted for your family. Sweet dreams and happy tuck ins!


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    • Mom Kat profile imageAUTHOR

      Mom Kat 

      7 years ago from USA

      Thank you. That is one of my "middle" children.

    • kaltopsyd profile image


      7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      When I put my godsisters to bed they don't do the typical requests and sneaking out of bed. Instead, they talk their heads off once I leave the room. I can stay in the living room and yell for them to be quiet a million times and they'll just keep chatting.

      I finally learned that putting them to bed in separate rooms is beneficial. haha. They're 4 and 6 years old. Bedtime used to be so much easier when they were babies.

      Great Tips and what an adorable picture!


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