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Monday, August 5, 2013

5 Easy Bedtime Tips

Bedtime can be the most wonderful and most exasperating time of day.

Sometimes the chaos that precedes the snuggling and reading, like the wrestling match known as getting kids into pajamas, and the chaos that follows it, like walking the child back to bed 400 times after the lights go out, can minimize the joy in the middle.

Here are some suggestions for keeping the chaos at bay.

1. Wear ‘em out.
Whether a child takes daytime naps or night, it is a good idea to have them get some physical activity after dinner. Take a family walk in the neighborhood. Have a parent/child wrestling match. Hook the camcorder up to the television so they can watch themselves dance. Do something physical to ensure they are tired when bedtime rolls around.

2. Wind ‘em down.
After doing something physical together...
...take time to wind down with a light, healthy snack together in the kitchen. This “time-out” sets the stage for the official bedtime routine.

3. Make a bedtime chart.
Use words for readers and pictures for pre-readers that show all the steps of getting to bed. Children can check off the steps once they’ve done them. (Or if you are feeling way pinterest-y, make a flip chart with panels the kids can turn themselves.)

4. Read to or with older children.
Just because a child can read to himself/herself doesn’t mean they have to. Select a classic book to read with your child, either quietly or aloud, at bedtime a few nights a week. Sitting with one’s child provides physical closeness and an opportunity for the child to share things they might not do during busier times of the day.

5. Tell your child “happy thoughts.”
To help push scary thoughts out of a child’s head once the lights go out, get in the habit of telling them to think about happy things they like to do, like going to the splash park, watching a certain movie, eating special treats. Or tell them to think about an upcoming fun activity, like a special day trip or birthday party.

Contributed by Carrie Vittitoe, parent-writer for Today's Family magazine.
Photo via What to Expect


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