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Kids Bed Time Chaos and How to Correct It
By Jan Gamm
Children can be very difficult to control when they have not had sufficient sleep. Many parents do not believe in enforcing a proper bed time and then wonder why their children and tired and fractious throughout the day. Some children cope so badly with lack of sleep, they develop poor behavioural patterns, poor immunity to illness, an inability to concentrate on school work and generally slip into a condition of ill health, all because Mum and Dad cannot bring themselves to insist on a proper bed time routine.

Sleep provides a wonderfully beneficial environment for growth and rest. Children are incredibly robust and healthy on a regime in which a strict bed time is observed, yet so few parents believe it can help their children develop significantly better than a flexible sleeping plan.

My pet theory on those who elect to allow their children to go to bed at the hour of their own choice is that they are checking out of the responsibility to discipline their kids at an hour when they themselves prefer to wind down after a long day. Isnīt is so much easier to sit on the sofa watching the television while the kids amuse themselves somewhere, beyond nine, ten, eleven oīclock at night? And so much easier to put down your own inadequate parenting to some fluffy idea about freedom of expression and liberal choice. It is all rubbish, of course. Kids need more sleep than adults and that is the end of the matter. So wake up if you are one of the idiots I have just described, and start structuring a proper bed time routine before your childīs health really begins to suffer.

Right, enough of that. If your child will not go to bed, there are things you can do to correct the situation, depending on the age of the child of course. The younger the child, the easier it is to structure a routine for sleeping.

A child who has been used to staying up will object most strenuously to being told to go to bed. Once in bed, they will get up and insist on staying up, then throw tantrums when you try to put them back in bed. The first time they get up, put them back and tell them they must stay there. The second time, just put them back to bed and do not speak to them, do not be drawn into any conversation whatever on any subject. Do this thirty times if you have to. The next night you will find the child behaves much better and from that time on you should not have any more difficulty.

Give your child a light lunch and then a heavier supper. Do not bathe your child before supper, but half an hour after. Allow your child to play in the bath, spend plenty of time talking and playing with your child but no boistrous, splashing games please. Always read a story to your child in the bedroom, never downstairs in the sitting room and never where a television is on. You may be very tired at this point, especially if you are a working parent. Tough. You will get your 'me-time' later - this is your childīs time and you must live with it. Try to enjoy it. This should be a quiet time for your child. With a full tummy and clean and warm from a relaxing bath, your child should sleep like the proverbial log.

Should your child decide none of this is going to work and start misbehaving, try not to shout. As soon as you shout, you are giving permission to the child to do the same and the next thing that happens is pandemonium while you try to control a massive family row.

Take things one step at a time and remain resolved you are going to observe a proper bedtime. Within a few days, your child will begin to show you the benefits of the new routine by eating better, sleeping soundly and behaving better in general.

Having established a bed time routine, do try not to disrupt it until it has had time to form a habit in your childīs life. If you must haul the kids out for a bonfire celebration or a family barbecue which continues late into the evening, then go straight back to routine the next day without fail and keep at it until you have reestablished bed time.

Do not allow toddlers to sleep in the afternoons when you are trying to instil a bed time. Once a child reaches two or three, they no longer need this afternoon siesta and it can seriously undermine your efforts to get your child to sleep at night.

Good night and good luck.

Jan Gamm writes reflections on life with an emphasis on world travel. She has lived in many countries and traveled extensively in the Far East, the Middle East, America, South America and throughout the South Pacific. She writes for fun and for money whenever she can manage it.

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