Bedtime routines can help young children transition to sleep time smoother and it can be fun and educational as well. Here are some tips and techniques to help your little one find some fun and do a little learning while getting ready for bed.
- Sing some songs. Make up a time for bed song similar to a clean up song. It makes a boring or unpleasant task into something fun. Have the kids come up with the words and help them with the tune. Eventually they'll be singing it while they play. Once in bed, sing another song; on that is more laid back and doesn't include a lot of movement. Lullabies are good, or any other song. Even singing the ABCs works because it is a calming tune and it helps teach children their letters.
- Let the kids help come up with part of the routine. You can let them help you decide what order to do things like get pajamas on, brushing teeth, reading books, etc. If the ideas they are coming up with are too crazy like, eat cupcakes or go swimming, then give them a choice. "Do you want to brush your teeth first or put on your pajamas." Let them know they have a say in the matter, even if it is just a choice of two mandatory tasks.
- Teach them how to count sheep, or whatever they want to count. While in bed, maybe after reading a story or singing a song, ask the kids what they want to count. It can be anything in their imagination, and it can be different every night if they want. Whatever they choose, point around the room like that item is all over the place and count how many imaginary items there are. This is a great way to teach numbers and counting to kids. Start by counting to ten and when they have that mastered, count to twenty, then thirty and so on.
- Let the kids pick which story or stories that are read to them at night. You can set limits to this, such as only short books, not long books. Or tell them they can have two short books or one long book, their choice, then if they aren't sure about the length they can ask for clarification. While reading books, point to the words as you say them and stop every once in awhile for a short discussion about what is happening to help boost reading comprehension. Since the kids picked out the books, they'll be more engaged in what is going on, and they'll always appreciate just a little more time stalling lights out.
For some more tips on help avoiding a bedtime meltdown from your youngster, read this article from Omaha's KETV from experts at Alegent Health.