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The Two Most Important Things Parents Must Do to Teach a Toddler to Go to Bed

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 184

It's the end of the day, and you want nothing more than to kiss your little child goodnight and go enjoy some well-deserved down time.You know she's tired but she resists going to bed, gets out of bed, makes endless demands and carries on until you lose your cool.Why can't she just stay in bed?There are two key things parents must do to allow the child to learn good sleep habits.

One:Parents must ensure that their child consistently gets enough sleep.

Since overtired children can become very active (especially at bedtime), you may not realize when he is fatigued, and allow him to stay up later than he should.This can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.Determine whether or not your child is getting enough sleep each day.Consult with your pediatrician to determine how many hours of sleep a child his age should get each day and see if you're in the ballpark.While children have individual sleep requirements, it doesn't hurt to get him to bed earlier - especially if bedtime is an ongoing struggle.Kids tend to wake at the same time every day, and not sleep in when they are tired.So try for an earlier bedtime; you may get less of a struggle when he is not overtired.

Families have lots of reasons why kids have a later bedtime - and some are hard to avoid.Parents who work outside the home or share custody may not have much time with the child, and may simply want more time together.If this is the case, try squeezing quality time in during the mornings.Families with older children may be rushing from ballet to baseball practice, preventing little ones from getting to bed on time when they have to tag along.Find a way to maintain a consistent bedtime, even if you have to hire a sitter or set up a carpool so your older child can get a ride home after a late practice.If none of this is possible, try to keep the afternoon nap sacred.Children can begin resisting taking a nap even when they still need one.Usually, children truly outgrowing naps will nap every other day, or a couple times a week, gradually less and less.

Just as night time routine is important, don't forget about the napping routine.Like bedtime, if your child feels it is negotiable, he will push hard to skip the nap even when he really needs it.Ever been to a daycare center or babysitter's at naptime?The kids all nap, every day, when it's time to nap.That's because the routine never changes.Kids who truly don't need a nap still have a quiet rest time.It is up to you to make this quiet time a priority.A child who needs to nap during the day, and gets that nap, is more likely to sleep well at night.

Two:Parents Must Let Their Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Before leaving your child to fall asleep in her room, be sure she has had all of her physical and emotional needs met reasonably for that day.Give her enough attention during the day that she doesn't try to get it all at bedtime, and be sure she's had a sip of water or bedtime snack.When a child gets up, you must return her to her bed.At first, remind her "It's time for sleep.We stay in our bed after we have been tucked in."Next time, say "It's time for sleep."And if she gets up again, you say nothing.She knows what you would say!And as always, if you are arguing or convincing your toddler to cooperate, you are losing the battle.She needs you to show that you mean it.You calmly guide her back into her bed, as many times as she gets up.You show no emotion, and you don't start a conversation or an argument.A toddler standing in a crib or in the doorway to her room won't fall asleep!I know one toddler who had to be laid down from standing many times before she gave up and stayed horizontal, and was soon asleep.The first night it was sixty-seven times.The next night, it took fifty-one times to lay her down before she stayed down.The next night took thirty-seven, then thirty-two, then twenty-four, then sixteen, then seven, then three.It took about a week, and the first two nights were the hardest, but it was easy to see the progress.She was learning that "go to sleep" meant go to sleep!If you tell a child to go to sleep, then let him stay up and do anything other than being in his own bed, you are going to have a BIG problem.Do you mean stay in bed and go to sleep, or don't you?Your child can't be sure.He'll continue to test you, until you have consistently shown him exactly what you expect.

Many children have difficulty learning to go to sleep on their own, but it can certainly be accomplished with your kind and consistent diligence.First, ensure that your child gets enough sleep every day.Make naps and bedtime a priority.Second, show him that you mean what you say.Respond consistently to your child when he gets out of bed to help him understand that bedtime is not negotiable.It might be hard work to get your child on the right track at first, but the payoff is long-term and sweet:your house is more peaceful, bedtime becomes enjoyable, and you get to have some "me" time at the end of your day.

Sue Hubbard, MS Ed. works with children who have special needs (birth through age five). Sue is a Special Instructor/Family Trainer with

Source: EzineArticles
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