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Star Light, Star Bright, Keep my child asleep all night.

11th Feb 2013

Star Light, Star Bright, Keep my child asleep all night. “Star Light, Star Bright, First star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, Keep my child asleep all night.”

Many of us spent the first year of our child’s life trying to figure out how to live without sleep. For those who figured it out, it meant that, having spent one sleep-deprived year, we came to value sleeping over all else. We recently read a quote, “All she wants for Christmas is a nap!” and felt instantly validated! We tend to accept this sleep upheaval from our infants up to a point and then trust that it will go away. For many it does, only to have it rear its ugly head as our children enter the preschool years. All of a sudden, our child, who is now sleeping in a “big boy” or “big girl” bed, suddenly discovers that he or she is able to get up and come downstairs. What about our grown up time? CURSES! Foiled again!

At Parenting Power™, we work with families to help them create strategies that work for them. The tools below have been a great starting point for many of our clients dealing with bedtime struggles.

My children seem to have endless energy and sometimes go into overdrive at the end of the day just as I’m getting tired and my patience is pretty much used up.

Told to us by Angie a mother of two young children

Angie was not the first client to paint this picture for us.  We worked with her to set up a bedtime routine as we encourage all families to do – the earlier in life the better.  Angie began to view this routine as a very enjoyable and lovable time for all. A good starting point is, “Bath, Brush, Books, Bed.” Some families include prayers or gratitude time as well.

A bedtime chart (words and/or pictures) works well for some children because they feel like they are more in control.  Develop it with them and then let them check off what they need to do.  Older children may want to continue to read for a certain amount of time after they have read with an adult.

Whatever the routine, consistency is the key.  This is where, as parents, we have to be sure to allow plenty of time for clean up and the routine itself, in order to get the children into bed at a decent hour. No child wants to be yanked away from an activity, told to hurry up and then thrown into bed and told to “go to sleep”.

Staying in Bed – Our little ones can’t be blamed for wanting to see what they are missing when they are asleep, but we must begin to draw the line. We recommend adding the little things like a drink of water, a pre-bed trip to the toilet and the requisite number of teddy bears to the bedtime chart so that they cannot be used as excuses after the lights go out.  Tim and Sandra loved the idea of the  “Get out of bed free card” that could be used by their son each night. “It took some effort for us to use the technique but it worked well in a short time. Once Sammy used the card, if he got out of bed again, we would simply lead him back to bed without talking or engaging with him in any way.”  They restated the expectations and the consequences the next day. Sammy learned that he wouldn’t get their attention if he continued to get up at night. He began to save the card for when he really needed it like a bad dream or when he heard strange noises.

Our children are smart and they may test new expectations/rules sometimes. But, it is often a parent’s inconsistency that allows a child to negotiate a new privilege every night. Sleep is vital to good health, happiness and learning. Email us at to receive FREE INFORMATION about the importance of sleep and the hours of sleep required by children as they develop. By being clear and concise about bedtime rules, including why sleep is so important, you will find that bedtime is much more enjoyable for all. Pleasant dreams…

Star Light, Star Bright, Keep my child asleep all night.

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