Written by Doctor G

Getting Kids to Go to Sleep


Go to sleep!

By the time a child is supposed to be in bed, most of us have lost a lot of our patience. Whether you’re put your own child to bed at home, or have someone else’s child in your house, or your bunk, or your girl scout sleepout, handling a child who can’t sleep can be frustrating!

“But I can’t sleep!”

Separate from starting that sentence with one of those 4 words I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, this is a totally reasonable thing for a child to say. It probably isn’t true, but they do believe it when they say it.

Show some empathy.

“But you CAN stay in bed.”

We can guide kids’ behavior, not their feelings. We can’t make them sleep, but we can explain what they can – and must – control.

Can't Sleep

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2 thoughts on “Getting Kids to Go to Sleep”

  1. Okay, so how do I get my 4 year old to stop waking me up in the middle of the night? What he really wants is someone to sleep with (in his bed or mine) but I’m not interested and the nightly wake ups and back to bed are starting to wear.

    1. My favorite for this is a reward system. He CAN wake you (because first of all he can, and second of all if he truly needs you that is important information). But if he manages to choose not to, he gets a reward of something great the next day – like cuddle and read for 30 minutes or something extravagant and wonderful. Or something smaller but if he can do it 3 nights in a row he earns the bigger reward also. You just need him to break this habit, which takes about a week. One note: He may not wake up all the way enough to decide so do something that WILL wake him. Like put a cowbell on his door knob so that the unfamiliar noise reminds him of the goal of sneaking in an giving you a stealth kiss on the cheek and going back to bed on his own like a big kid, or to leave his door open a little so that the next day you’ll know he made a great decision and can get the reward. Let me know if it helps?

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