Bedtime Habits = Better Behaved Children

If you want a well-behaved child, along with setting limits and being consistent with both punishments and rewards, here is what you should do:

Make sure your child has a regular bedtime schedule
That’s the message of a study just published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers from the United Kingdom asked parents of more than 10,000 children all sorts of questions, including questions about their behavior and sleep habits at ages 3, 5 and 7 years. They found that the children who didn’t have a regular bedtime were more likely to have difficult behavior.

Here are some tips to help your child fall asleep at that regular bedtime:

• Have a calming bedtime routine–nothing too active or exciting. Try a nice bath or shower, snuggling, reading…things like that.
• Cut out the TV and video games. Not only can they be exciting, but the blue light they emit can actually activate the brain (so even the non-exciting shows can be a problem).
• Start the routine early, a good hour or so before bedtime (you might want to stop the TV earlier). Relaxation can take a little time.
Children tend to continue a behavior when it is rewarded and stop a behavior when it is ignored. Consistency in your reaction to a behavior is important because rewarding and punishing the same behavior at different times confuses your child. Remember, when you think your child’s behavior might be a problem you have three choices:
• Decide that the behavior is not a problem because it’s appropriate to the child’s age and stage of development.
• Attempt to stop the behavior, either by ignoring it or by punishing it.
• Introduce a new behavior that you prefer and reinforce it by rewarding your child.