If you’re like most parents you’re probably more than familiar with this scenario:
 
You put your primary school child to bed at 8:30 every night, hug and kiss him, wish him sweet dreams and switch the lights out. It’s been a long day, you’ve to wash the dishes, catch up on housework and you still haven’t had a chance to relax and unwind after a tough day. However, you find yourself in and out of your six year old’s room pleading with him to go to sleep. When he finally nods off, three hours later, you’re exhausted! So, why is this so common?
 
Your primary school child is learning to assert himself and his independence but on the other hand his days can be fraught with insecurities and fear.  Your five-to-eight year old needs to be reassured by you which is one of the reasons he will try to elay going to sleep.
 
So, how can you get your child to sleep without the battle?
 
Talk to your child about their day:
Your primary school child may be fighting going to sleep because he needs time checking in with you after a long and often tough day at school. This is particularly true if you work long hours yourself. Try to set aside some time to chat about what happened in school. You may find that he is more likely to want to go to sleep if he has had a chance to unburden himself.
 
Stick to a bedtime routine.
Lots of parents find this works particularly well. Make a bedtime chart with your child; include his bath, brushing his teeth, bedtime story and goodnight kiss. Give him five minutes’ notice before it’s time to restart the routine each night.
 
Motivate him
When your primary school child goes to bed on time, it certainly benefits you! So, why not give him a little reward too? The morning after he goes to bed on time and sticks to his routine, reward him with a sticker. If he manages to follow the routine for more than four or five days, then offer a reward like a new book, an ice-cream or a bike ride.
 
Offer choices
When your child refuses to go to bed, it’s a powerful way for him to assert himself. The best way to counteract this behaviour is to let him decide if he wants to read a chapter of his favourite book or which pyjamas would he like to wear. By giving him a choice, he is less likely to feel out of control and more likely to comply.
 
Be calm but firm
Even if your five year old cries, begs, screams or pleads to be excluded from the going to bed rule, you need to stand your ground. Speak in a calm manner but be firm and insist that when time is up, it’s up. If you give in once, you’ll face the exact same struggle the next day.
 
Take it one step at a time:
You can’t expect your child to learn all at once, so take it one step at a time. Building a bedtime routine that your child will stick to takes time. Build your way to your goal of him sleeping through the night in successive, successful steps.
 
Problem solve:
If your child is finding it tough to keep his head on his pillow at night, it could be that there is something causing it. You will need to get to the root of the problem, is it because he isn’t tired? Is he hungry? Is he scared of the dark or afraid of monsters under the bed?
 
Try offering him a flashlight if he’s afraid of the dark. Eliminate night-time TV if the shows make him jumpy. Make sure that he is getting enough exercise during the day so that he’s tired enough to go to sleep on time. Some physical activity and a slight change in schedule may be all that's needed to make sure that your child is tired when it's bedtime.
 
 

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