Does your child put up a fight at bedtime?
You’ve tried everything, from reading an extra story to just putting your foot down. But none of it makes bedtime easier. What to do?
You don’t have time for a lengthy bedtime every night. You need your children to get enough sleep. And you need a moment to yourself after a long day—especially since tomorrow, you’ll have to do it all over again.
Bedtime doesn’t have to be a struggle. Let’s change it, starting tonight.
How to make bedtime easier
Each child is unique. What works for one, doesn’t work for another.
As the author of The Child Whisperer, I teach that children move through the world in four general patterns, which I call the 4 Types.
When you know which Type of child you’re trying to tuck in, you can customize your approach, so that it actually works.
The Fun-loving Type 1 Child
These high-energy children are social and move through life with a bouncy energy. They are animated and can have a hard time winding down, especially if they think they’re going to miss something fun.
- Let bedtime be a light experience
Let them choose stuffed animals to sleep with and wear mismatched pajamas. Make a funny story part of your nightly routine, or turn on some music while they brush their teeth. Think light and fun.
- Switch up the bedtime routine
These children love variety and newness. So even though they have key things to do before bedtime (brushing teeth, putting on pajamas), don’t require that your child does them in the same order or the same way every time.
The Sensitive Type 2 Child
These children connect with the world emotionally and move through life with a gentle energy. They need time to wind down in the evening and tend to get whiny or cranky if bedtime is abrupt or unpredictable.
- Make their room cozy
Sensitive children prioritize comfort above almost everything else. If bed can be a cozy, snuggly place, your child will be more likely to want to go there.
- Support them with a plan
Sensitive Type 2 children like to know what’s coming. If you let them know what to plan on, they’ll be more comfortable and easy to guide through their bedtime routine.
The Determined Type 3 Child
These children connect with the world physically and move through life with a swift energy. They are often described as active or persistent and can be a powerhouse that has a hard time powering down at bedtime.
- Support physical activity during the day
Bedtime starts hours before for these children. Because they are so intense, they need to run that energy out throughout the day, or they’ll be too fired up at night.
- Get their wiggles out
Engage them physically before they fall asleep. Tickling or wrestling before bed may not rile them up. In fact, it may be just what they need to get out that last bit of energy before turning in.
The More Serious Type 4 Child
These children connect with the world intellectually and move through life with a straightforward energy. They tend to be responsible if they are given space to be their own authority.
- Give them privacy and structure
These children value privacy and predictability. Even if they share a room, make sure they have certain spaces that are theirs for changing and sleeping.
- Let them be in charge
These children live best by rules that they had a voice in creating. Ask them to help you decide on the best process before sleep. Ask them to help you establish rules long before bedtime—that way they will have time to mentally prepare for the bedtime structure that they helped to create.
You know your child best—read their cues
As a parent, you receive inspiration that is unique to your child and your family. Listen to your unique intuition about your child’s bedtime needs.
What is your child’s resistance telling you? Does your child feel wound up or uncomfortable? Does your child feel too structured? Or not enough? Knowing your child’s Type is a key to tuning into your child’s unsaid messages.
Even if you’re frustrated or sleep-deprived, you can do this. Sweet dreams!