General Question

limeaide's avatar

Getting kids to sleep at a decent time?

Asked by limeaide (1921points) August 1st, 2009

Our kids are 4 and 2 both boys, we have them in the same room. We have a baby on the way and really need to get the boys to sleep at a better time. Does anyone have a sure fire way to get them to sleep without the constant arguing, bartering, getting out of bed over and over again routine. I’d even be willing to hire someone to come in and teach us all what to do, has anyone ever done anything like that? How would you find someone like this, what are they called, etc…?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

23 Answers

knitfroggy's avatar

My son hated to go to bed when he was younger, he’s 6 now and is still not too crazy about it. We finally put up a baby gate on his door, and let him cry and yell all he wanted. When he realized no one was coming to let him out, he would lay down and go to bed. Sometimes it would take a while, but after a couple weeks he knew that he had to go to bed.

itsnotmyfault1's avatar

The easiest solution, is to ask other parents.
I guess you’re doing that right now, but I would feel better getting advice from my close friends (*when the time comes).
Also, ask your parents, especially if you were a little brat.

limeaide's avatar

@knitfroggy how old was your son when you did this? I think leaving 2 boys in the room could be an issue. I can imagine their beds being destroyed, toys thrown everwhere and fighting between the boys.

knitfroggy's avatar

@limeaide He was between 2 and 3. My son tore up his room a time or two and he got the pleasure of picking it all up the next day. I never messed around with my kids and bedtime. I am the parent and I am in charge. When my kids were babies and didn’t want to sleep, they went in their cribs and cried until they went to sleep. If I knew they weren’t hungry or dirty, they could cry. Same with bigger kids, there was no reason my son should cry and yell, he was just trying to see who was the boss, and he learned.

Zendo's avatar

Separating the boys is the only solution. They are feeding off of each other’s energy. Pray this next child is a girl!

Dog's avatar

@limeaide Welcome to Fluther!

Supacase's avatar

We go through something similar with my daughter who is 3½. Every time she gets out of bed, we take something away – her bedtime books, CD of nursery rhymes, bedtime buddies (stuffed animals) and so on. After that we start taking away privileges or things she is looking forward to the next day.

We also let her cry it out if she stays in her bed but is still putting up a fight. If we go in after she has been crying for 10 minutes, she learns she just has to keep crying for 10 minutes to get us in there.

I have to say, I think she comes by it honest. My mom said I had sleep problems from age 2 or 3. She would finally put me in bed with her and go to sleep while I talked and sang.

limeaide's avatar

@Dog Thanks! I’m loving Fluther!!! I can’t say enough good things about it.

SuperMouse's avatar

I found that bedtime is all about routine. If you don’t have a routine set one up and stick to it. Ours was basically bath, reading, kisses, sleep. My kids knew the order of events and that they meant bed was coming. My two favorite sleep books are Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by RIchard Ferber and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth.

tramnineteen's avatar

I think being very stern and having a memorable punishment such as @knitfroggy suggested is the best route. You may have to include separation until it sets in. If you do this, and then put the back in the same room and they go right back to being loud simply separate them again immediately to send the clear message that it is serious and that it’s your way or the highway. You don’t have to get loud and angry as part of this. Simply have the consequences real and without exception. Since you have been working on this already you might tell them up front there is a new policy and then make it the law.

Garebo's avatar

I remember we tried not to let him nap too long, or too often during the day. And we would avoid letting him get stimulated before bed, and we always read to him, 98% of the time he was out for the count. The other 2%, a car ride was facilitated, just had to be extra careful when we took him out of the car not to wake him. Our problem was he had to have that darn “bee” all the time, I mean pacifier, in order to fall asleep.

PerryDolia's avatar

Develop a specific routine at bedtime that works toward calming the boys. Read them a story of their choice. Spend time with them. Talk to them about their day or their toys. Something slow and easy. Tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them.

Then tell them it is time to go to sleep, kiss them good night, and leave the room.

If they get up, take them by the hand and CALMLY walk them back to bed…no matter how many times it takes. Do not talk to them, scold them or explain anything. Just put them back to bed. The key here is they want to get a reaction from you. They are feeding off that. If you get upset or exasperated, they are rewarded. Don’t reward them with any attention or emotion after bedtime (unless they are sick or hurt, of course).

Eventually, they will learn that there is no reason to get up again because they get no more interaction from you. They may get up many times the first night, but in a few days they will learn to stay in bed because there is no reward in getting up.

Jack79's avatar

As with my previous answer….“hammer” lol.

I’d like to be able to come over and help. I think the best solution when you have two is to make them fall asleep separately (first the 2yo then the 4yo). I don’t know what you mean by “decent time” and what time is good so that you get some time for yourself. Not sure if having a 3rd one this fast was a good idea, but now it’s on the way anyway (hope it’s a girl).

To be fair, girls are much easier at these ages. I keep thinking how easy mine is as a child, but she is a girl (albeit a bit of a tomboy). When I wanted her to sleep earlier I devised a routine she had to go through (drink milk, brush teeth, pee, put diaper, daddy tells story, goodnight kiss, sleep). Then I gave her the milk a couple of minutes earlier every night, or told a slightly shorter story. It worked, but my problem then was that she’d wake up too early in the morning. Eventually we settled for a 10pm-9am non-stop sleep. It was healthier for her and allowed me enough sleep too.

sakura's avatar

How many times have you been asked to do something straight away and not really felt like doing it so wait about 5/10mins before you do it?? Lots I bet, well it’s the same for children start about 2 hours before bed time and let them know what is coming next at each step for example

We are going to have a play/crazy time etc… for ½ an hour then after that we are going for a bath. Then about 10 min before end ok bath in 10 lets start to tidy your toys 5 mins before the end say to the child in 5 mins we are going for a bath and count down now 2 mins in 1 min ok now its time…

(Try using lavender oil or Johnson’s soothing bedtime bubble bath)

Once in the bath about 5 mins again before you want them to get out, ok 5 mins left lets start to tidy your bath toys.. make a game out of it, can you put them all away before we finish singing twinkle twinkle etc… Again use the counting down method, and importantly when we get out the bath then we will put on pj’s and have bed time story and then to bed (re enforcing routine in childs mind as you go along)

When out of the bath snuggle in a blanket on the sofa, or even better in bed and tell the child ok 1 story or 1 chapter and then it will be lights out and sleep time. (Try choosing a story that isn’t too full of adventure – The baby who wouldn’t go to bed is a good one or guess how muchI love you) When getting to end pages , gentle reminder story near the end and then it will be time to go to sleep.

Then give them a kiss goodnight and tell them its time for sleep and that you can’t wait to see them in the morning for a big cuddle!

If they continue to get out of bed as @PerryDolia has said, this is tried and tested technique by many mums/dads etc.. and generally works IF you can stay clam!!

Good Luck and remember children like routine and knowing what is coming next, it gives them time to prepare and gives them time to understand what is being asked of them.

and welcome to fluther

cookieman's avatar

When my daughter was still in the crib, it was easy. Dark room, a little jazz playing…night, night.

Then, when she moved to the bed she started giving us a hard time. We wanted her in bed by 8PM. We tried letting her cry it out (as suggested above). Well at 5:30AM she was STILL wailing and crying. This kid had stamina.

Finally, my friend said, “duuude, just let her stay up. She’ll crash eventually.”

So we tried it. After a week of being awoke at 6AM she was exhausted and the appeal of staying up late lost it’s charm.

She now goes to bed on her own around 9PM.

ShanEnri's avatar

I would sit with my daughter and we would tell stories or just talk, sometimes she would lay still while I rubbed or patted her back lightly! I did it while I was pregnant and it carried over to after the birth of her brother.

Bri_L's avatar


for my wife and it was a couple things.
start calming things down about 45mins. ahead of time.
Start getting ready for bed about 30 min. ahead of time.
– picking up, bathroom, diapers, brush teeth, wash up, pj’s
read books about 20 or so min. ahead of time
cuddle for the last 10 or so min.

do this consistently every single night.

cak's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

Routine, Routine, Routine! That is the key. Having both kids in the room will make this a bit more trying; however, it is possible.

About an hour before bedtime, quiet time begins. Quiet time consists of Bath, Books and Bed. We do bath time to get clean – of course, and to get that last bit of playing out of his system. Then book time. During book time, we take a “picture walk” first, something he learned to do in kindergarten – see what the kids think the book may be about and then read the book – my son helps read whatever book we are reading that night. The bed. Tuck them in, lights out and that’s it. No negotiating, no arguing. If one of them gets up, put them back in bed – no talking, no extras, just back to bed. You may do this several times, but just be consistent.

My son was horrible at bed time, but it was because we were not consistent. Now, there is no way we vary from the schedule. It’s amazing what happens when we do. He’s a nightmare the next day!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Congratulations on the baby on the way – to be honest with you, I never had issues with my first because we always had a very set routine starting around 8:30 pm – that’s when his last meal is (a small amount of cottage cheese, berries and yogurt), then 5 minutes of play, then shower time, then off to bed – that is it, not leeway, unless it’s a special occasion – and so it always has been this way and he just falls asleep or he can lay there quietly – maybe I’m lucky but I think that it’s all about setting up VERY clear expectations – he knows that nighttime after food is not a time to go insane, at all – with my infant, no routine is set yet, he’s 6 mo., we only make sure it’s quieter and less light in his room after 9 pm but nothing specific yet

nebule's avatar

routine routine routine
consistency works wonders

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’m not a parent, but maybe this would work…
let them stay up until whatever godforsaken time they want for one night – maybe even keep them up – and then the next day, they’ll be tired and groggy and regret staying up. sometimes the best way to teach someone a lesson is to let them experience the repercussions.
however, i am not a 4 year old boy, and i am not too keen on how their minds work. for all i know, they could end up being like “AWESOME, THAT WAS FUN.” so. i’m sorry if this was no help. i’m no expert on reverse psychology… :p

bean's avatar

this might be a bit late but…I use to baby sit heaps, best thing is play a game, really interact with your kids, and make it a loving moment where they can connect with you, have a small conversation about anything they bring up, just communicate well with them (that way they are more inclined to listen to you because your being nice) and explain why it’s best to sleep at a certain time, or just make a light suggestion to go to bed but be subtle to force it or remind them. If they don’t behave make an angry gesture but then joke at the same time. Like “oh no…. I’m going to have to tickle you, and I can’t stop because you don’t want to go to bed”. and when they do go to bed be rewarding, just make bed time seem like the best. Also being a little compromising like giving a reward once or twice, not too much because you don’t want them to think it will keep happening… subtle things are the best.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther