Just a few simple and easy things to do when bedtime comes around.
Just like clockwork, these days at the stroke of 10 PM I start to yawn. Being the night-owl that I am by nature, this still amazes me! And it is all due to a strict bedtime routine that I adopted when I moved in with my significant other. We always go to bed at 10 PM and get up at 6 AM. Initially, I fought it. Then I complied but wasn’t too happy about it. Now…I actually like it!
We all crave consistency. Establishing regular bedtimes and routines will help your nights go much smoother and will provide your child with a predictability that they will grow to desire.
Because family life can be hectic and many things have to be accomplished in the evenings, try making the timing and order of those things as consistent as possible. Be as predictable as the clock, maybe even follow the clock as your guide. Try starting your routine from dinner time.
Tips to get you started:
— Pre-plan the order of activities you would like to follow every evening (e.g. dinner, T.V./play time, bath time, brush teeth, go potty, read a book together, lights out in bed).\
— Take pictures of your child performing each activity, print them out, and create an activity schedule to review with your child every evening.
— Base your activity transitions on the clock and use a timer to help cue your child to transitions (e.g. “Five more minutes of T.V., then bath time.”)
— Offer your child choices that do not alter the sequence of the routine. For example, give them a choice on which pjs to wear and which books to read, etc.
— Soften voices and sounds and dim the lights 15-20 minutes before bed.
It is very important to praise and reinforce your child’s compliance with each step in the routine and with making transitions between activities.
Especially in the beginning, tantrums may occur. As long as the behaviors are not dangerous or overly destructive, don’t talk about or pay attention to those inappropriate behaviors. Instead, keep your current instruction present, (e.g. brushing teeth), wait out the tantrum, and praise your child once they start complying with the instruction.
Dive into dreamworld
Consistency is the key to your family benefiting from bedtime routines. So, talk to your family members and start planning your schedule tonight. Pick a bedtime and start back-filling in your evening activities from there. Sweet dreams.
— Brook Wheetley
Brook is a BCBA and the eLearning Manager at The Behavior Exchange. She finds joy in helping improve the lives of children and families through the tools of behavior analysis. In her spare time, she teaches yoga and competes in country-western dance. At The Behavior Exchange, our autism therapists in Plano and Frisco, Texas only use evidence-based, proven ABA techniques, so you can feel confident in your child’s therapy plan. We welcome your call at 972.312.8733.