Often it’s not so much that kids don’t want to go to bed; they just need a little help. There are a few things that you can do to help them develop positive sleep habits, such as teaching them important bedtime rituals, communicating openly about their needs and behaviors at bedtime, and providing appropriate sleeping space.

To help you get started, here are five ways you can encourage healthy bedtime habits in your kids:

1. Create a bedtime routine.

Help them get ready for bed by taking a bath, reading a book, or talking about their day—whatever they are most comfortable with. Developing this routine can help your child’s body and brain associate time in bed with relaxation, which is key to falling asleep. Make sure that you’re not checking their closet for monsters for the umpteenth “one last time”, or you’ll end up with a set of screaming lungs instead of an exhausted but peaceful child!

2. Use positive words when discussing bedtime.

Many times when we have a hard time getting our kids to go to bed, we use negative language like “scared” or “naughty.” Kids pick up on this language, and thus they think going to bed is something to be fearful of. If you want your kids to see going to bed as a good thing, you need to use positive words. Instead of saying, “Come on, it’s time for bed,” say, “Let’s get you ready for your awesome bed!”

3. Teach your child about sleep and relaxation.

Teach your child about the importance of sleep and how it helps their bodies rest and grow. To help your child understand, you can also talk about the importance of getting rest in a quiet and calm atmosphere. If you’re having a hard time getting your child to wind down, help them practice slow breathing techniques. This will help them focus on their breathing, which is one of the best ways to relax.

4. Provide a comfortable sleeping space.

When developing good sleep habits, it’s important to ensure that your child has a comfortable and appropriate place to sleep. Your child’s room should be quiet, clean, and clutter-free, so it doesn’t distract them at night or keep them awake.

5. Know When to Be Quiet

As much as you might want to run around the house with them or play music so that they can have fun, it’s important to keep these activities for daytime or at least for the early evening. After dinner and bath time, get your child ready for bed with quiet activities like reading a story, singing a song, or playing in the soft light of a lamp. Even if they’re too big for a lullaby, try humming one to them before bedtime. It will be calming and familiar when you do it every night.

Getting your children ready for bedtime doesn’t have to be a battle. Just remember to be positive in your language, use a bedtime routine, provide a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment, and know when to be quiet. With a good night’s sleep, your children will be ready to tackle the day ahead.

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