-Bedtime + Young Children = Chaos/ Frustration/ Active resistance?
Bedtime can be the low point in many families’ days.
How do you get your child to cooperate with lying down in bed and going to sleep?
I’ve worked with many moms who are preoccupied with both of these aspects: getting in bed and falling asleep.
“Unfortunately, ‘getting” your child to do just about anything is not something you can fully control.
- You can bribe, and sometimes that ‘works.’
- You can threaten, and sometimes that ‘works.’
- You can physically place your child in bed, and sometimes that ‘works.’
But what does it mean that a solution you’ve chosen ‘works?’
What moms typically mean by that term is that the child does what they want them to do. But if a particular method doesn’t ‘work’ all the time, you’re still going to be dealing with the same problem: resistance at bedtime.
So how do you choose a solution that will result in what you want to happen – children who cooperate with bedtime and go to sleep at a reasonable time?
The Bedtime Routine
Implementing a bedtime routine is a great help to the families I’ve known. A typical routine consists of a few steps begun at a consistent time in a consistent order, ending with the child in bed at a designated time. These steps vary from family to family, but often include
- PJ’s on
- Brush teeth
- Child in bed with a quiet activity, often a parent reading a story (or two!) to them
- Lights out
This is by no means a complete list of the steps. Some parents choose to lie beside their child until they fall asleep, others sit beside them for a short time, then leave quietly. Still others give last hugs & kisses, and then leave. There are no hard and fast rules about bedtime!
Your child’s routine will depend on their age, temperament, and unique needs. I’ve known children who needed quiet and calm at bedtime in order to sleep, and others who slept better if they had a rambunctious wrestle with a parent just before bed. Really.
The bedtime routine helps, because all the steps signal to your child that the day is coming to a close and that rest is the ending to it. Notice that I said, rest, not sleep. Your child will choose what time they actually fall asleep, no matter what the clock tells you.
Some children will need at least 30 minutes of lying down before they are ready to fall asleep. And that’s okay! You control what time in the morning they are awakened, which will influence when they feel tired enough to fall asleep. If it still takes them a long time to fall asleep, and they seem to need more rest, you can always move up their bedtime to accommodate their needs. You can’t be in charge of when or even whether your child falls asleep, but you can take charge of the bedtime routine.
Fine Tuning the Bedtime Routine for Your Child’s Human Design Type
You can fine tune the bedtime routine to suit each of your unique children, no matter which of the 5 Human DesignTypes they happen to be. The needs of each type are quite different, and may differ from what you’ve heard or read. Here are a few tips on tailoring a basic bedtime routine to each of the Types.
Initiators benefit by lying down before they feel tired. They’ll also sleep better if they don’t share a bed with an Alchemist (Generator) or Time Bender (Manifesting Generator). Doing both of these will help them not be so wakeful during the night.
A bedtime routine is especially helpful to Initiators because the consistency will inform them of what’s coming next, which they appreciate. That way they’ll know they won’t have time to start a spectacularly creative activity once the routine has begun. They can then manage their creative flow around what’s coming up.
If you need to change the routine (vacation, visits from relatives) be sure to inform them ahead of time so they can anticipate what will be different. You’ll have fewer tantrums and push back.
You can teach them during the routine how to tell when their body starts to feel tired, and that rest is as important as activity for everyone. Initiators need to learn when they’ve had ‘enough,’ so that as they mature they avoid burnout from trying to do too much. This is something they’ll benefit from learning before adulthood.
The Alchemist needs to burn off energy in order to wear themselves out enough to sleep. Alchemists have abundant stores of energy, thanks to their Defined Sacral Center. They’re designed to wear themselves out every day, and if they don’t, they may get lower quality sleep. Getting high quality sleep will positively influence their behavior in all areas!
In our culture the evenings (and after school time) are often filled with sedentary activities like TV watching, playing video games and playing on tablets. Your Alchemist might well enjoy all these activities, but overall they’ll feel better if they get a lot of physical activity instead.
Be cautious about their desire to seek out distracting activities (like puzzles, video time, etc.) when they start feeling tired, as they may get what looks like a ‘second wind’ – it will actually result in overtiredness., and even more difficulty falling asleep.
Time Bender (Manifesting Generator)
Just like the Alchemist, the Time Bender needs lots of activity and exercise during the day, and may try to delay bedtime with activities. This is especially true if they feel they didn’t have a chance to do what they ‘needed to do’ during the day.
They also benefit from a consistent bedtime routine, with forewarning if something will be different, as they share many traits with the Initiator.
Special Tips for Alchemists and Time Benders
Both Alchemists and Time Benders have a defined Sacral center, which means that they have a consistent and sustained access to life force energy. They have so much energy that they may be early in giving up naps. This can be distressing to moms, but that just gives them more time to burn off their energy during the day.
Having a defined Sacral center also means that they have a reliable truth-telling mechanism that they can access easily. Turning it on is as simple as asking them yes/no questions. Their immediate response to a yes/no question will be the truth, and you can guide them through the bedtime routine (and any routine or project, really) by playing a game with their responses. These two Types need something to respond to in their environment, so give them lots of opportunities.
Most Alchemists and Time Benders will instinctively reply ‘uh-huh’ or ‘uh-unh’ to a yes/no question. Some will respond ‘yep’ and ‘nope.’ So as you go through the routine, you can have a series of exchanges like this one,
“Do you want to take a bath?”
“Well, it is time to take a bath. Do you want to play with your sponge toys in the bath?”
“Do you want to play with your foam paint pens?”
“Okay, let’s go get them!”
Exchanges like this will help teach them to trust the feeling in their gut when they respond to an outside opportunity.
As a mom you’re often advised by parenting experts to offer your child choices. Choices can be helpful, but for the Alchemist and Time Bender, it’s beneficial to also offer yes/no questions to respond to.
The Orchestrator, like the Initiator, needs to go to bed and lie down before they feel sleepy. They also rest best if they sleep alone.
Because the Orchestrator has an open Sacral center, they don’t have consistent and sustainable energy. If they’re around Alchemists and Time Benders they’re able to ‘borrow’ their energy, but only for a limited time. They really need their rest, and may need to nap during the day, even into adulthood.
The Orchestrator may know the bedtime routine better than you, so don’t be surprised if they take charge of it or direct you and their siblings in how it should be followed!
Calibrators also need to lie down before they feel tired, and they sleep best if they sleep alone. Consistency is especially important for them, so the time they begin the bedtime routine, the order in which they follow the steps, and the time they lie down should be kept the same as much as you can. There are always exceptions, of course, but the more consistent you can be, the better for the Calibrator.
The Calibrator can tire more than other children – like the Orchestrator – so naps and periods of rest are important. Even if they don’t sleep during naptime, they need to get used to what rest feels like when their body is tired.
Calibrators and Orchestrators may appear to have lower energy than the other types, so try not to dismiss out of hand their complaint of feeling ‘tired’. They may indeed be more tired than you think they ‘should’ be based on your estimation of what they’ve done. This is especially true if you are an Alchemist or Time Bender.
Calibrators may move more slowly through routines than other children. It may feel easier to lead them through it and tell them what to do, as the routine will go faster After all, who doesn’t feel rushed these days?
But be as patient as you can, as Calibrators need time to choose…what book to read at bedtime, which pj’s to wear, all sorts of things. Your patience helps them learn what THEY want and not what would please others.
Calibrators also need you to be fully available to them. Offering them your full attention for a short time at bedtime will make it more enjoyable to them – and more willing to follow the routine.
Last Thoughts About Bedtime Routines
Bedtime can be the most relaxing and enjoyable of times. Or it can be more raucous and energetic and still fun.
I remember reading a book to my 7-year-old lying quietly in bed while his sister marched up and down the bed as she listened. It felt so frustrating that she wouldn’t just sit quietly and listen! BUT she needed to discharge that last bit of energy, while my son had exhausted himself all day long and was ready for quiet and sleep. She WAS listening. AS she marched! Once I gave up the notion that both children needed to lie down or sit quietly, bedtime became easier and more enjoyable for all of us.
What does your child’s bedtime routine look like ?
Is it easy and enjoyable, or not so much ?
If you’d like some support in crafting a better bedtime routine, I invite you to schedule a Free 25- minute Discovery Call.