Many parents are familiar with this situation, as soon as dusk falls and it is soon time for the children to go to bed, the great fear and hope begins and sometimes even the same drama begins. The kids just don’t want to go to bed. And the parents sometimes need several hours before the little ones actually sleep.
Mothers often reach their limits faster, while dad is still trying to get the little ones to sleep. It should therefore be in the interests of the fathers in particular to ensure that there is no big drama in the first place. But why does this occur so often and how can it be prevented effectively and in the interests of the whole family?
When the timing just isn’t right
Many parents have clear ideas not only about their children’s bedtime, but also about their own. The children are in bed by 7 or 8 p.m. at the latest and you have to sleep by 11 p.m. at the latest to be able to start the day fit the next day.
Anyone who follows such strict rules that he imposes on himself and on his children on a daily basis completely loses sight of what actually makes sleep necessary: actual tiredness.
In contrast to children, most adults manage to gradually calm down and become more and more tired with various mind games, meditations or thoughts about the day, even if they are in bed and actually still have a lot of energy. Children, on the other hand, are simply too restless, impatient, lively and undisciplined enough for that.
The point of sleeping when they are barely or not at all tired simply does not become apparent to them. And somehow they are right about that.
The problem is that they usually don’t look for something to do that makes them tired and play a little with building blocks, only to slip under the covers again after half an hour or an hour and try to sleep. Instead, children get really creative in order to delay bedtime: They report that they are hungry or thirsty, want to go to the toilet several times or start nagging or even raving about.
Ultimately, this all means: I’m not tired enough for bed yet. Sometimes the opposite is also the case. If parents have missed the point in time when the child was clearly ready for bed and waited another hour or so, fatigue can also lead to the little nuisance going crazy and simply not wanting to go to bed. Even then, a little more patience is required, whereby one benefits here that sleep is urgently needed.
In principle, however, the solution is: Children should not be put to bed at certain times, but only when the signs clearly indicate that fatigue is spreading. Of course, there are rules and boundaries in bringing up children, which it can be important to strictly and consistently observe.
In this case, however, you can be a bit more flexible. Parents pay attention to signs of tiredness and do not just put their children in bed, because all children have to be in bed by 8 p.m. at the latest, children feel that their need for sleep is taken seriously and respected. This in turn means that they voluntarily go to sleep more often, or at least faster, if they are really tired.
Sometimes there is not enough capacity
Children have an enormous amount of energy. They want to and should let them out every day. On some days, however, it happens that mentally or physically (or both) they simply do not reach their full potential.
This then leads to the fact that they are still in bed full of energy and simply cannot fall asleep. Instead, they would much rather get creative with Lego bricks and build cities or play soccer with friends. The only thing parents can do about it: Make sure that it rarely happens that children are underutilized in bed. And the best way to do this is to get active yourself.
For example, fathers in particular should be role models for their children. If dad is always lying on the couch and not moving, children will also have less desire to frolic and fall into bed tired at night. Apart from that, lazy fathers always lack the healthy energy that is necessary to be able to raise a child in a way that meets them and their demands.
It is therefore especially important for dad: Regularly do sports with the little ones, play catch or, for example, do exciting gardening work together and create a bed, plant trees, harvest fruit or the like. Speaking of the garden: there is hardly a place that is better suited to ensure a bit of occupancy during the day, but also just before going to bed. Regardless of whether you set up a trampoline for children on which they can work off or whether you set up two small football goals and encourage the little ones to compete – the garden is the healthiest play and tobacco paradise there is.
If you have enough space, you should think about building a play tower. This offers the best opportunity for the little ones to develop their motor skills in a playful way. The subject of safety has top priority so that the children can run around without a care. Above all, the playground equipment must be adequately fastened and anchored.
In addition, enough space should be planned around it. Set up securely, a trampoline or play tower with a variety of elements offers enough variety so that the children don’t get bored and they enjoy moving around and trying out new things.
The day was too great – what now?
You think you are doing everything right if you ensure maximum utilization and play a round of soccer with the children before going to bed and then you shower them and put them to bed and they still cannot and do not want to fall asleep. Because it is too difficult for them to let go and get involved in sleep in which they are not supposed to do anything.
Instead, the whole day goes around in their head and they think about tomorrow and what they can then experience beautiful and exciting, etc. The adrenaline that is still floating around in their body from the activities supports these thoughts. What can be done about it?
Quite simply: In addition to the daily workload, parents also have to ensure that children can always relax sufficiently and come to rest. And not just when they are supposed to lie in bed and sleep in the evening. During the day, too, there should always be situations in which you calm down after romping around and devote yourself to playing with building blocks, having something read aloud or doing relaxation exercises with your parents, such as imaginary journeys or progressive muscle relaxation and the like, listening to radio plays, calm Playing board games, etc.
Those who get children used to the fact that active activities are followed by a period of rest and who show them how well this contrast does, will notice how much easier it is for children to suddenly fall asleep in the evening.
Fears prevent the willingness to let go
From a certain age, you need a certain willingness to sleep. This willingness not only includes the acceptance to end the day now and let yourself go to the rest phase until the next day, but also a surrender to the night, the darkness, the unconscious.
Even if many children think about it so directly and often do not reflect so much, they can feel that the night has a different character than the day. The darkness that prevails at night alone scares many children because they can no longer see everything. The imagination quickly creates monsters, villains or dangerous animals in the room and next to the bed.
There are also dreams that often scare children and that they cannot understand or classify. In this case, even dad, who is seen by many children as the strongest and the protector of the family, does not get far with logical arguments – unless he sleeps in the room, which of course, apart from a few exceptional situations, should not be.
A strange shadow on the wall, an unknown noise and children are put to sleep. The only thing that helps is: taking the little ones’ imagination seriously and responding to it.
The only thing that really helps is to take the children seriously. Instead of explaining to them that there are no monsters and that they do not have to be afraid of anything, that their dreams are just made up nonsense of their subconscious, parents should deal with the fears of their children. And not destroy their imagination with statements like “You are just imagining it” or “This is nonsense”. Of course, it is important to make it clear to them that they do not have to be afraid and that in an emergency they are there to protect them from all evil. But it can definitely help to get into the fantastic thoughts.
A self-made bag that is attached to the bed and in which parents give “secret ingredients” and in which one must never look inside, drives away any bad energies. A dream catcher over the bed filters the bad dreams and only lets the good dreams through.
A spell sung by Dad prevents monsters from entering the room. Parents are allowed to get creative themselves here and think of exciting things. This gives children the feeling that you are taking them seriously, that you are open to them and that you really want to help them. And that in turn leads to better and safer sleep.