Bedtime doesn’t have to be a nightmare

Bedtime is a stressful time for lots of families. First some general tips.

· Have a bedtime routine.

This should be a process of calming down, relaxing and getting the child ready to go to sleep. Kids, especially those with sleep difficulties, should go to sleep the same time every night and wake up the same time every morning (this helps their bodies know when it's time to be awake and when it's time to go to sleep).

· Avoid stimulating activities after dinner

(This includes computer, videos, TV, and video games)  If your child has trouble making the transition, apply this rule to everyone in the family, not just the child with the difficulty.

· Make sure your child is tired at bedtime.

If kids nap too long during the day or sleep too late in the mornings, they won't be tired at bed time. This can be difficult if your child is in day care and has specific nap times, but if you can shorten nap times this will help bed time.

· Use the bed only for sleeping purposes and a bedtime story.

Kids with trouble sleeping need to view their bed only as place to sleep, not somewhere to play (or jump).

· Some parents find that letting children read in bed if they're not tired is helpful.

You can't force a child to be tired, but you can enforce bed time as quiet time. If you do this make sure you use a very small light so that it doesn't keep the child awake! As long as the child stays in bed quietly, you're on the way to getting him to sleep. If the child won't stay in bed, he loses the privilege of being able to read in bed.

· Show confidence that your child will be able to sleep

It's natural to want to comfort a crying child, but continuing to answer cries for attention teaches her that she needs you to fall asleep (and gets her lots of attention). Answer a crying child once to make sure everything is okay, then express confidence that you know she'll be alright and you'll see her in the morning.

· DO NOT let the child sleep in your bed.

Once you do this you'll have to work twice as hard to get him to sleep in his own bed. Unless he is sick, don't lay down in bed with him either, another hard habit to break .