A simple bedtime routine for children
Prepare Ben for bed each night by reminding him of the routine. It is a good idea to tell him 15 minutes beforehand, "Ben, you're getting ready for bed in 15 minutes."
- Pyjamas on (this may be done earlier depending on the time that your children have a bath or shower)
- Brush teeth
- Have a drink of water (if required)
- Go to the toilet
- Check with Ben if there is anything else he needs to do before going to bed
- Say goodnight to family members
- Get in to bed with a book (no electronics at this time). This is an ideal time for parents to read to or with their children.
- After reading you may choose to share a simple prayer, meditation or visualisation
- One kiss, one hug and light off
What if Ben gets out of bed for a drink or to go to the bathroom?
Ben needs to be calmly reminded that he was given time to do what he needed before bed. He can get another drink but tomorrow night he will be in bed 15 minutes earlier. And you must follow up on this! (It might be helpful to mark the photocopied clock with new hands to remind you. You may forget but Ben won't. And, you can be sure he will procrastinate again if you don't follow up.)
What if Ben negotiates on his bedtime?
Part of the learning process is for children to express themselves, to negotiate, justify and compromise. Ben knows bedtime is 7:30pm. However, on a rare occasion he may wish to negotiate his bedtime by asking you to consider a later time to allow him to sit with his cousins or to finish watching a television program.
You may then negotiate a new time but that new time is firm and the routine is still followed. However, if you do not agree to Ben's suggestion you simply say. "No, Ben, you will go to bed at 7:30pm." Should Ben object his bedtime then becomes 7:15pm. Of course, negotiation is reserved only for an occasional event with justifiable reason.