My kid won’t go to sleep!

I have one child who is almost four and although he can be quite a cranky child, at the end of the day he mercifully crashes out and falls asleep soon after he goes to bed (mostly).  But my older child, who is almost 6, could stay up watching Letterman if given the chance.  We let her do this in the summer (not stay up too late but past her normal bed-time) because she didn’t have to wake up early for camp or school.  I loved watching her snooze the morning away as I recalled when she was a baby and would wake me up at exactly 5:58 every morning.

Now school has begun so the alarm goes off at 7:15 am.  Not too early compared to some kids; thankfully the school is 2 blocks away.  However, despite this new early rise-time, she still can’t get to sleep.  Our routine is and has always been: bath, stories, bed.  Now that she can read, I will let her keep her light on and read to herself for a while to see if that will knock her out, but she will read an entire Magic Tree House chapter book and still be wide awake.

I can’t say I have this all figured out, but after polling my pals and trying a few things myself, here are my suggestions:

  • As long as the child remains in their bed and definitely in their room, it’s okay if they stay up a little later reading quietly.  It’s hard and sometimes scary to be wide awake and reading should help them get tired.
  • No TV in the bedroom and definitely no TV to help fall asleep.  I have had to use this under extreme desperate measures once or twice, but not with a 6 year old on a school night.
  • No dessert after dinner, especially no chocolate.  I find that if I am going to give my child something sweet during the day, that if it happens after lunch instead of after dinner, this is a big help.  If my kids have dessert after dinner, the sugar high kicks in big time.
  • Give the child a pad and pen and let them draw pictures and stories or make lists.  Tonight I told my daughter to make a list of the names of the kids she wants to invite to her birthday party and then also write down the things she wants for her birthday presents. I also found a pad that has a top blank part for drawing a picture and below this are lines for writing words to go with the picture so the child is making a story book.
  • Not too much to drink before bed as you don’t want the child to have to get up a hundred times to go to the bathroom
  • No scary stories or TV before bed!
  • Once in a while I have had success taking a few minutes to calm the child down by rubbing his/her back and singing a lullaby so they feel more comfortable and relaxed in bed, then it seems okay to leave the room, leaving them half asleep.

As they get older, I just have to accept that they will be awake later as they need less sleep.  But boy do I miss the days when they were both old cold at 8:30!

What do you do to get your kids to go to sleep?

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