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Little Ones and Bedtime Woes!

By Jodie Lynn

Younger children have so much life in them. Each day is an incredible learning experience. In fact, they are so pumped up about everyday events, that they hate the words, "time to do go bed." Many now know that after they go to bed, things are still going on and usually loudly protest and wildly resist having their engaging activities interrupted.

Other things that come into play is the fact that they are now beginning to conjure up monsters and bad things that go bump in the night. Another scary feeling is separation anxiety.

Here are some tips that should help with those bedtime woes:

Eight Ways to Nip Bedtime Woes:

1. Create a routine. It is necessary to have bedtime routines. Some of these can include bathing, changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, listening to music, reading a favorite story, story-telling, cuddling, and listening to music.

2. Tell them what is happening. After each step in the routine, tell them after we listen to music, it will be time for you to shut your eyes to go to sleep. If they know what is coming, it will help them to learn a consistent pattern and series of events that leads to the part where the parent leaves their room.

3. Make sure your child over stimulated up to three hours before bedtime. There are many parents who will run their kid ragged with activities like allowing them to run around outside, jump on a favorite chair, watch a favorite movie, etc. before bedtime thinking it will help them to sleep better. However, most of the time, it does just the opposite. Young children, as well as all of us, can actually become too tired to settle down and sleep.

4. Cut out horseplay two hours before bedtime. Be sure that your child does not horse play with you or anyone else right before bedtime. They get so excited during the day, that it takes them longer to finally give in to go to sleep.

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5. Watch what they eat right before bedtime. It's best to not feed children up to the age of five chocolate at least three hours prior to bedtime. Drinking caffeine is just a big of a no-no as chocolate.

6. Monitor what they watch before bedtime. Even if we think a movie is not scary, it might be to them. Their imaginations are running wild and many times, they really do not grasp the concept of pretend and real. If you are watching a movie with your child, watch the child for puzzling looks and gasping sounds. While it may be cute and funny to us, it could lead to nightmares.

7. Getting up out of bed. Set limits to how many times, if any, you are going to allow your child to get up out of the bed. They all want one last trip to the potty, one last drink of water, one last hug and so on. If you make this a part of your plan, then it will not upset you. For example, if you have accepted the fact that he will be calling you for various reasons, tell him you can only check on him three times. After the third time, let him know that you will not be coming in and he should try singing until he gets sleepy. You will have to stick to your guns on this.

8. Stay calm. Bedtime is one of the most stressful times of the day for many parents. Needless to say, it is just as stressful for your child. As children reach the age of three, they will have a tendency to test your rules a little. By staying calm, but firm, he will eventually learn when to calm down. If you scream, holler, yell, and spank, it will only add fuel to the fire. Everyone will become so upset that the whole endeavor will become exhausting. A power struggle will soon develop and while you may end up winning for the night, it is a very short-lived victory. He will learn to retaliate during the day and may not even know why as he will not be able to pinpoint his anger or even relate it to the previous night.

As your child gets older, getting them to bed becomes easier; life becomes easier and unbelievably, you will forget this frustrating experience just as he will -- you can bet on it.

© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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