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3 min read

I don't know if there is a struggle that unites more parents than BEDTIME.I need to close my eyes and take a deep breath every time I hear, "Why do I have to go to bed?"...followed with "I don't want tooooooo!"The Montessorian in me empathizes that my children are just having fun and they don't want it to end.But the parent in me knows they sleep to learn, grow, and feel good.The tricky part is just convincing them of that...This is where the Montessori approach really shines.Rather than answering the question "Why do I have to go to bed?" with some version of "because I said so" - a simple, honest, and age-appropriate explanation often works so much better.

In this case, you can say something like:

  • "because your brain and body need rest to keep you healthy and growing"or
  • "because your body needs rest so that you have energy to ______ tomorrow."

Helping them understand the reasons why they have to do certain things, especially things they don't like, is important for three reasons:

  1. It's respectful of their curiosity
  2. It's helps them develop better reasoning skills - they understand why they have do to something
  3. It builds trust - they begin to understand that we make decisions in their best interest, not for no reason

This Likely Won't Be The Last Time They Ask...

For most kids, this will be a topic they push back on throughout their childhood and into their teenage years.

That's why it's also a good idea to weave the importance of sleep into everyday life from a young age:

And as your child grows, they'll also likely want more information or 'proof' around why sleep is so essential.You can work with your child to learn more about what happens while we sleep and why's in necessary.

Modelling Healthy Sleep Habits

With the frantically paced society we live in, most of us don't get enough rest or sleep.

How can we expect our children to understand the importance of sleep if we don't model it?We can model healthy sleep by:

  • Making sure we prioritize our sleep. It was actually this book, Raising Antiracist Children, that helped me to view sleep as a form of self-care.
  • When we get enough sleep, we also stop complaining about how tired we are
  • We also stop complaining about how late we went to bed

All of this tells our children that we prioritize sleep and the care of our bodies.They internalize this message and carry it into their teenage years and adulthood.

As Always, Routines Help

Children, especially young children, thrive on routines. The predictability helps them to feel more secure and confident.

While it's fun to stay up late or skip bath sometimes, routines do make bedtime easier on everyone.A consistent bedtime routine also prevents prolonged, undesirable behaviour at bedtime, like fighting/delaying bedtime, teeth brushing, pajamas, etc.This is because of intermittent reinforcement - when boundaries and rules are only enforced some of the time.When we only enforce boundaries some of the time, children learn that there's always a chance they'll get what they want.Just knowing they could skip bath or stay up late, makes it that much more likely they'll keep asking to do it every night.So while in the short term, it can harder to be 'a broken record' and consistently stick with your bedtime routine... in the long run, consistency is often a much easier way to change negative behaviour.

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