What a lovely time of night it is when all children are tucked up in bed and sleeping soundly. However, that can change dramatically when your child will not stay in bed or settle! Of course, if the child is unwell, it is to be expected; but generally it is a goal of most of you to have your children settled and sleeping in order to have a few minutes to yourself. I’m sorry I don’t have a magic wand for you, but I can share some suggestions that have worked for us.
Firstly, it is a good idea when you are training your child in a ‘big girl/boy’ bed to have a regular bedtime routine and time (for instance, brush teeth, read story, into bed by 7pm every night). Steve and I also found it was a good strategy to let one parent do the reminders and resettling. After 3 resettling turns it helped to have the other parent to head in and do a more stern reminder.
When our children were older, it helped to have another strategy. We allowed the children to read a couple of books. If they got out of bed the child had the books taken off them. This was a good strategy as it didn’t need any stern voices.
Yet another consideration is the needs of the child. As previously mentioned, it is a very good idea to set up some routines and regular behaviour surrounding bedtime. When the children are used to a routine and settling better, it helps you as the children get older to know if there really is something wrong (since it would not be such common behaviour for them to be unsettled each night). I actually remember calling to my mother when I was 5, telling her I was unwell. There were visitors at the time and I had already been out of bed many times. Anyway, I then proceeded to be sick in my bed. I was in a lot of trouble of course!
One time when visiting a friend, my eldest would not settle. No sooner had I settled her, she would follow me out of the room. I was getting very cross. My friend gave me good advice. She felt that the bed problem was not sleeping but obeying my instructions. She taught me to train my children in first time obedience. It was the best strategy I have learnt to date. It took some time, and I will explain more about it another time, but eventually I trained my children to answer when I said their name, come when called, and stay in bed.
And you’ll be pleased to know they can now stay in bed when first settled….most of the time! Perhaps you have come across some useful bedtime strategies for settling your children at night, why not share them with us?