Make your child's bedtime experience joyful and engaging!
Every parent dream of a smooth and drama-free bedtime experience, avoiding tears and arguing with a child. But often everything happens in the opposite way.
Have you ever thought what could be done better to improve child’s bedtime experience? Answer is to establish new habits and create a suitable environment.
Before introducing new sleeping habits for your child, it is important to make observing, by noting your child’s behavior and preferences. According to the Montessori method it is crucial to adapt sleeping habits to suit your child’s temperament, developmental stage, and unique needs. By doing so, you will be able to prepare for a child’s bedtime properly and create an appropriate environment to a successful bedtime routine.
Some advice for preparation stage
- Note the main processes which should be done before the bedtime and assess how much time it usually takes. For example, how much time takes tidying the room, finding pajama, tooth brushing and washing up.
- Pay attention to the child’s bedtime habits – importance of having a beloved toy, drinking water before bed, having a switched-on nightlight in the room, or listening to a soothing music.
- Observe how the child falls asleep and how much time it usually takes.
- Assess child’s sleeping quality – does the child sleeps disturbingly, wakes up often or cries during the sleep?
- Note child’s favorite sleeping positions.
- Note what makes him to wake up. For example, uncomfortable sleeping position, noises, lost blanket etc.
Evaluate all these aspects. This will allow you to see the bigger picture. While it may require some extra time and effort, over time bedtime process will become more efficient.
Prepare a pleasant and comfortable environment in the room.
Preparing a suitable environment
Here are some essentials for a child’s bedroom:
Floor bed or mattress on the floor: Choose a bed that allows the child to step in and out on his own.
Shelf with a few toys: If there’s space, include a shelf with a selection of toys for the child to play after waking up. But be aware that shelf should always be well arranged, without unnecessary things and possibly even hidden to avoid unneeded interest before bedtime.
Mirror: Place a mirror in the bedroom to help the child get dressed or brush his hair.
Small wardrobe: Provide a small wardrobe where a child can access his clothes. It is important that a child can dress himself for a bedtime without relying on parental assistance. This teaches self-reliance.
Night light: It can help to create a calming and soothing environment before bedtime and allows child to feel safe, as darkness may seem frightening to him.
Safe environment: Ensure the room is completely safe by covering electrical outlets, securing loose wires, and installing window locks. Imagine yourself as a child and observe everything from his height. Is everything safe and free from potential dangers? Can the child easily access necessary items?
Adjusting the room: It is crucial to arrange the room in a manner that enables the child to accomplish tasks independently. Avoid creating a sense of disability for a child in a bedroom. Observe how the child can prepare himself for a bedtime. Disability in this environment can lead to an anxiety. Imagine yourself not being able to accomplish something – you would be upset. The same goes for a child. So, it is important to equip the room to support the child’s growing independence.
Remember – these are some basic considerations. You have flexibility to personalize child’s bedroom based on his specific interests and needs.
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Establishing new bedtime habits
- Instead of using a lengthy phrase such as “How many times do I have to tell you to go to bed?” or “Do you want to sleep?” more effective is to provide a gentle warning that bedtime is approaching and use a single word or a simple statement like “bedtime”. This approach helps to avoid unnecessary discussions.
- Maintain a positive bedtime approach, avoiding using sleep as a punishment. Show love, incorporate rituals, and transform bedtime into an engaging experience. Use techniques like “Silent Exercise” to calm a crying child. Start whispering while reading a book, creating a calming effect. The child will stop crying because he will be interested to hear the story.
- Engage in soothing activities like reading, music, massage, or discussion. If nothing of the above helps, have open conversation to address concerns. For example, ask, “Is there something bothering you? Unfinished task or a desire for another story?”.
- Explain benefits of nighttime sleep to your child and ask about his feelings regarding it. Often, children cry or protest because they may not grasp the importance of these activities. Protests typically arise when parents desire a result without explanation. It is important to consider that children enjoy finishing tasks, while adults may rush and interrupt, which can have adverse effects. Allocate time for a child to prepare for a bedtime, even if it takes up to an hour. Evaluate his own pace for finishing tasks. Even at the age of 3, let the child to plan his own approach to complete activities before bedtime.
- By preparing a child for bedtime, give him time. Stick with the chosen sleeping habits for at least a week, as it requires time for your child to adapt. Discuss bedtime habits with your child and remind them every evening. Educate child about appropriate timing and use comparisons or humor. Make bedtime a pleasant part of a day.
- Remember to set boundaries and stick to the schedule, while also providing opportunities for a choice. For instance, allow a child to choose which pajama to wear or which book to read. Maintain understanding that bedtime is an important part of the overall routine, just like waking up, playing, and lunchtime.
Establishing a safe and stable foundation during a child’s bedtime experience is crucial. As a parent, you have the opportunity to provide both physical and emotional safety and stability. This creates a sense of peace for the child, even during challenging times such as sleepless nights. By fostering a secure environment, you can promote better sleep and overall well-being for your child.
Used sources: Carol Davies “The Montessori Toddler”