Thursday, March 12, 2009

Parenting Challenges: Children & Bedtimes

At 7:30 p.m. you begin your nightly bedtime ritual for your 8-year-old. A relaxing, warm bath. Brush the teeth. You talk about what happened during the day. Read a favorite bedtime story. Sing a lullaby. It ends with a kiss goodnight.

At 8:30 p.m. your child quickly drifts off to sleep for a solid 10 hours. Then he or she wakes at 6:30 a.m., bright, perky, happy, and ready for the day ahead.

Sounds great. Almost perfect. Ideal. Nostalgic and
Cleaveresque. But is it really possible?

the Obama girls are supposed to be in bed by 8 p.m. in the White House. That news caused a bit of a guilt trip for Dr. Perri Klass.

In a
New York Times article she admits how far she missed the mark with her kids.

“I’m not sure any of my three children ever had a regular bedtime before 9:30 or 10.”

And she notes that this was in the 1980s. At that time there were fewer technological distractions competing for our attention at night.

No Internet and e-mail. No cell phones. No double-disc, extended edition, bonus-feature DVDs. No

OK, so maybe there was
Super Mario Brothers. But overall, wasn’t it easier for both parents and kids to wind down at the end of the day?

Today the challenge seems greater. So it’s even more important for parents to create a calming bedtime routine for their children. This includes a consistent “lights out” bedtime each night.

The bottom line: Are you giving your child the opportunity to get enough sleep each night? Roughly 11 to 12 hours for a preschooler? About 10 to 11 hours for an elementary-school student? Around nine to 10 hours for a middle-school student?

If not, the cost can be great for your child’s health and well-being. And it can make your life miserable as a parent. Tantrums. Outbursts. Crying. All-around meltdowns. You know that it can get ugly.

So how are you doing in the bedtime battle? Do you feel like you’re on the losing side? Or do you have an award-winning bedtime routine for your children?

Learn more about sleep and children.

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