If you’re tired of constantly negotiating, threatening, or wheedling your kids to "pack your toys away and get into bed right now — please!", maybe it’s time to change your evening routine. If kids find something to look forward to at bedtime, they won’t resist it as much.
- Read them a story. Bedtime stories are a great way to get the kids to hop onto the bed straightaway. Bonus: you get some physical quality time with them. You can choose to read either a few short stories or one long story — in the case of the latter, you may opt to end at a “cliffhanger” and promise to continue the rest the next night. For younger chldren with shorter attention spans, you may want to read them nursery rhymes instead.
- Sing soothing songs. Kids who have just come from rough horseplay with daddy may resist being asked to lie down right away. So, instead of crooning a lullaby right away, get them to settle down first by singing songs that involve sitting together in bed and cuddling. The “I Love You” song from Barney is a good pick, as is “The More We Get Together.” When everyone is finally in a relaxed mood, move on to standard lullabys like “Hush, Little Baby” and “Rock-a-bye Baby.”
- Play some quiet bedtime games. Turn off all the lights, flick on a flashlight, and have fun making shadow figures on the ceiling. Or engage in “conversation” with a favorite stuffed toy, asking it about its day, etc., which in turn will lead your child to talk about how his or her day went. You can also talk about the fun things that you plan to do tomorrow, and end with, “So go to sleep now so that it’s tomorrow already!”
- Have them drink a glass of warm milk before going to sleep. Nothing induces sleep faster than a full stomach, and milk always does the trick. Milk contains two substances that are known to be related to sleep and relaxation, the hormone melatonin and the amino acid tryptophan. Also, milk may elicit thoughts of mom’s cuddle, home, and comforts of childhood that help one relax. But don’t forget to let them brush their teeth afterwards.
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