Bed Time Parenting Tips

It is the rare child who doesn't put up a fuss to stay up past his bedtime. The wise adult sees this phenomenon as a zest for life and a hungry curiosity about what comes next. As the day draws to a close and in the light of our own very real fatigue, it is possible for parents to lose perspective. Understanding what bed time represents to your child is half the battle in getting them tucked in with a minimum of fuss. The other half involves helping your child to see bedtime as something other than an enemy.

The most important tool I ever learned in all my years of parenting my 12 children is the firm reminder that bed time is imminent. I try to give at least two warnings and I prefer to offer three. Here's how it works:

Your child is playing with Lego and you want her to finish up and get ready for bed. 15 minutes before her play time is up, state this in a pleasant voice. "Susan, in 15 minutes it will be time to clean up the Lego and start getting ready for bed."

At this point, I like to give my child a full 10 minutes of uninterrupted play. Then, I will call out, "Susan, 10 minutes have gone by. In 5 minutes I will ask you to clean up the Lego so you can get ready for bed."

After 3 minutes, I tell my child, "Okay, Susan, this is the 2-minute warning. It's time to finish up your game."

With so much time to prepare, my child almost never fusses when it's time to clean up. She has become accustomed to the idea that playtime will end. This has also become part of her daily routine, a very important part of family life. Your child's mental preparation is the key to the peaceful ending of an active day.

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