6 Tricks for Putting an End to Bedtime Battles

6 Tricks for Putting an End to Bedtime Battles

Struggling with your kid’s bedtime routine? Try these techniques to make it go smoother.

By: Maria Mora

Does your child get out of bed over and over at night? Don't lose your temper. Try these six simple techniques to make bedtime smoother.

1. Adjust the bedtime routine. Kids need time to settle before they’re required to stay in bed and fall asleep. Don’t rush kids to bed straight from homework or TV time. Build plenty of space into your bedtime routine for quiet play, brushing teeth, and your family’s special bedtime rituals. Start earlier than you think you need to.

2. Act out bedtime with toys. Ronald Crouch, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, suggests using role play to help your child establish a bedtime mentality. “Have the child put their favorite toys to sleep,” he says. “Children can do a task better if they have already performed it in play.” Just make sure your child doesn’t go to bed with too many distracting stuffed animals.

3. Use relaxation exercises. Relaxation exercises can help settle your child’s racing mind, especially if she’s experiencing anxiety. Quietly ask your child to tense and release muscles, like curling the toes for five seconds and then releasing. Work your way up the body. For the last squeeze, ask her to tense her entire body and squeeze her eyes shut tight for five seconds before relaxing.

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4. Create an inviting sleep space. If your child is getting out of bed over and over, it may have to do with the atmosphere in the bedroom. Toys, blinking lights from electronics, or an uncomfortable bed can send kids straying. Don’t let your child have a TV in the bedroom. Keep the air-conditioning a little cooler than you typically keep it at night. If your child is old enough to do homework, put it away at bedtime so it doesn’t trigger stressful thoughts.

5. Avoid snacks and drinks before bedtime. Eating and drinking too close to bedtime can keep a kid up. Avoid snacks, especially sugary sweets or chocolate, too close to bedtime. If your child is prone to getting up in the night to use the bathroom, avoid offering drinks close to bedtime.

6. Use soothing sounds. “Soothing sounds, such as singing a little or turning on a white noise machine, can help children rest,” says Dr. Crouch. Unless you plan on serenading your child at great length, stick with a white noise machine or a playlist of instrumental music your child finds soothing.

What bedtime tricks have worked for you and your child?

Maria Mora is a single mom, editor, and hockey fanatic. She lives with her two sons in Florida.

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