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What parent has not heard this from their five-year old? At bedtime, your child somehow turns into a canny politician, inventing all kinds of excuses to convince a parent to delay bedtime, and employing tactics that would do a warring nation proud: threats, cajoling, stonewalling, outright physical force such as kicking or hitting, and a parent's least favorite, screaming. At the end of a long day, this scenario sorely tries a parent's resistance and resolve. What do you do? Do you let them scream until they get tired of fighting? Do you allow them to stay up? Do you physically restrain them in bed? Do you draw a line in the sand?
And once they are in bed, how do you keep them there? Do you let them cry? You can't ignore the nightmares and the fear of the boogeyman. It seems that your children will never sleep through the night, especially if they happen to have a television in their room. And there's always the persistent request: “I'm thirsty.”
Getting kids to bed, though, is the most difficult part.
It may surprise you to learn that children enjoy having a familiar bedtime and a regular routine. Children like their lives to be orderly and get a sense of security from nightly before-bed rituals, such as reading a story, drinking a glass of milk or taking a bath. It’s an important transition from the activity of the day to those eight or ten hours of sleep that children need. The ritual helps you actually get the child into bed. The traditional tooth brushing and face-washing is an important part, as is putting on pajamas.The rest of the ritual is up to you.
There are some important points to keep in mind:
Mommy I'm Thirsty:
Children often do not like to be left alone and they may have difficulty falling asleep, just as adults do. The difference is that adults may just lie awake or turn on the light to read - children cry.
How do you ignore a child screaming, crying and pleading for an hour, and avoid the constant requests for water or to go to the bathroom?
First, realize that you are in the power position. You set the rules. Stick to the rule that once it’s bedtime, it’s time to stay in the bedroom and go to sleep. However, if an older child wants to play quietly in bed or read, you may allow this. Do not, however, allow them to watch TV to go to sleep, since the stimulation has the opposite effect. When engaged in quiet activities, children eventually grow tired and turn out the light.
Second, you can ignore the child if you have the will. A child’s crying hurts the parents more than it does the child. Children know this, and that’s why they persist. They learn this at three months old. However, you can help them unlearn it, and pave the way for healthier sleep habits later in life. That can have the added benefitof making you sleep better at night.
Third, check your child’s mattress for potential sleep problems. Children have special mattress needs, and you should choose a good, durable mattress for them. With the right mattress and with good sleeping habits, you can be sure your children will be in a dreamland every night.