”Right! Bedtime in 5 minutes!”

December 4, 2019

...At bedtime my child turns into a dehydrated philosopher who needs a hug!



The day is done, but the bedtime battle has just begun.


”Right! Bedtime in 5 minutes!”


The tired parent looks at the clock yearning for their much deserved down time. The child senses this - and the impending disconnection.... and he shifts gears, into turtle mode.


Sound familiar?


Depending on the nature of your child you can tweak the bedtime routine to suit their needs.


Social Natured children will cooperate at bedtime if they have had the opportunity for movement and some fun throughout their day.  However, they are the masters of delay tactics when it comes to bedtime. They want to be with people and don’t want to be alone so, they... will... procrastinate! 


They are very likely to ask for items such as;


a banana,

an extra hug,

another hug,

a story,

more time to tell you there is a monster under their bed or

a shadow in the wardrobe or

a little scratch on the bottom of their leg or

a new freckle that has just appeared on their foot, or

even that they have forgotten to tell you that they were hit at school today

even though they have been talking all day. 


Anything they can think of to delay the inevitable.


Social children they need a quick bedtime routine that is light, easy and fun.


Get the necessities done such as bathing, pajamas on and brushing teeth as early as possible or straight after dinner when they have more energy. Then closer to bedtime a short routine will help them wind down and get off to sleep.

You can respond to delay tactics by replying to everything in a slow, low, monotone voice; Back to Bed and repeat this as many times as is required until they know there is no other option.  Remind them once that they can tell you all about it in the morning. 

The key is to provide them with very little social interaction and keep the rest of the house inactive and unappealing so they don’t think they are missing out on anything. 


Strong Natured children usually go hard from the moment they open their eyes and usually sleep well if they have had plenty of physical movement. Before you expect them to go to sleep, it is a good idea to allow time for them to ‘burn off energy’.  A few laps around the house or rough and tumble with a parent in the lounge before bed is a good idea, and then a quiet hands-on activity in their room if their body is not ready for sleeping.


Allow them to have control over things in their world. Especially things they can get their hands on. Decisions about clothing choices, which book to read, even turning the pages can give them a sense of control. 


Sensitive Natured children will cooperate at bedtime if their environment is calm, smooth and they feel connected. 


Ensure their primary needs have been met throughout the day paying particular attention to how much one-on-one meaningful connection time they have had with one or both parents.


Sometimes Sensitive Natured children become over tired very quickly.  Be aware of their sleep window. Like adults they can push through tiredness and get a second wind. 


When I was Nannying a sensitive toddler in New York she would often be falling asleep in the highchair.  Instead of putting her to bed I would encourage her to finish her food as it was not yet her bedtime. By the time I cleaned her up, changed her nappy and dressed her in her sleepwear, she was wide awake and overtired.  I soon learned that as soon as I saw signs of tiredness, I needed to get her into bed, and if she needed preparing for bed, I would reduce all stimulation. Even patting, stroking, kissing or talking was kept to a minimum and she would then go straight to sleep. 


Before you expect older children to go to sleep allow time for them to process the day’s events. This is best done around the dinner table as it can sometimes cause unneeded anxiety right before bed. 


For the Structured Nature, routine and repetition will help meet their need for predictability so routines must be structured and repeated the same way every night.

Right from an early age these children have an amazing in-built sense of reason, so help them to read their own tired cues for when their body is ready for sleep.  Then support them in their own self-care until they are old enough to manage themselves.


Before you expect a Structured child to go to sleep, allow them time to ‘turn off their brains’.  For some, reading a book, an audio story or a mindfulness CD can be helpful. 


You may need to support them in thinking back through the day, examining failures and successes and making decisions so that they do not lie awake processing the details. 

Dress rehearsing the day ahead can also be helpful to put to rest any worries or concerns but be mindful not to introduce too many new details as sometimes this can backfire. 


Keep ideas short and factual, painting a picture for them. This speaks to their intellectual mind. For example, instead of saying, You’ll have fun at swimming sports tomorrow, it’s going to be great, just say, You’re going to get dressed in the changing rooms, hop in the pool and your teacher will tell you what to do.


Older children can be trusted to put themselves to bed but be sure to establish a private good night ritual even though they are capable of being left alone. 



Book Coming Soon !!

The Book - The Nature of Children is designed to help parents understand what their child’s nature is, and how to provide an environment to meet the needs of each Nature, resulting in HARMONY IN THE HOME.






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