It’s the end of the day, dinner is finished and how it’s time to get your children to bed. You are tired however your child still seems full of energy. If only I had that much energy you say to yourself. Instead of winding down they seem to have a second lease of life. Perhaps they’re not really tired? You decide to let them stay up a little longer…then a little more. By now they are running around the lounge room, very loudly, perhaps even a little aggressive in their play. I’ll have to put them to bed soon, you say.
When you finally make the decision that it is seriously bedtime. Then the real fun begins. Firstly, they don’t want to go to bed! They are protesting. The bedtime routine then becomes a bit of a battlefield. You start to make promises of books, lying down with them. They then use the “just more story”, “I need to go to the toilet, again”, or “I need a drink” or any other request that will work for them. Perhaps you just give up trying altogether and let them decide when it’s time to go to bed, perhaps they just fall asleep wherever. Sound at all familiar? A lot of parents deal with this most nights.
Here are some things that you probably don’t know, most likely no one has ever told you this. Children are unlike adults when they get tired. As adults, when we are tired we could just about fall asleep anywhere – like driving the car! Children, they are the opposite. As they get tired they become more active, their voice gets louder, they run, they become more aggressive in their play, they become clumsy, they trip over. All these signs should be like a red flag to parents. If you see any of these then your child is overtired and overstimulated. The more overtired your child becomes the longer it will take them to get to sleep.
Babies and children should be able to fall asleep within 10 minutes of being put into bed after their going to bed routine. Any longer than this and it is another red flag. If they are taking a long time to fall asleep then they are over tired.
There is also the what I call ‘Jeckyl and Hyde’ this is when you child changes from being and playing well to suddenly become teary, loud, shouting, emotional, grizzly and then just as you are saying to yourself ‘perhaps they should start getting ready for bed’ they become nice, loving, play well, use a normal voice and then you immediately doubt your prior wisdom and think ‘they seem okay, we’ll wait and see how it goes’. Think red flag again. They need to start their sleep routine ASAP. They need to wind down and go to sleep… Always stick to the routine !!