AS A parent we can accidentally encourage poor sleep habits.

We may get into the habit of allowing our children to fall asleep downstairs or with us, rather than being settled in their own bed.

Breaking bad habits is not always easy! There are steps you can take to ensure your children have a good bedtime routine:

• Make sure your child’s room is comfortable, use a night light if they are afraid of the dark.

• Set a regular time for going to bed-anywhere between 6.30pm-8pm is reasonable.

• Make a bedtime routine together: Go to the toilet, brush your teeth, read a story together, say goodnight, stay in bed until morning.

• Prepare your child ahead of time, tell them they will be going to bed soon (approximately 30 minutes in advance), involve your child in quiet activities beforehand, clear away whatever they were involved in 10 minutes before bed time, start the routine.

• Take them to bed and talk them through the routine: have you been to the toilet, brushed your teeth, said goodnight to everyone? When all these things have been done you can read a story, sing or talk about the day they have had.

• Say goodnight and leave, making sure to ignore any requests or complaints.

• Encourage good behaviour. If your child has gone to bed and remained there all night remember to praise them the following morning.

Start a bedtime routine early and try to avoid falling into the parent trap of letting your child fall asleep in your arms, or in your bed.


NEXT WEEK: How to help your emotional teens