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Health & Parenting

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10 Surefire Solutions to End the Bedtime Battle

Fix your child’s bedtime routine once and for all.

How to Set the Scene and Create the Ritual for a Peaceful 'Good Night' continued...

Take Charge and Set Limits

Children want us to run the show, Waldburger says. "A developmental task of a toddler is to push and test. Our job is to set healthy boundaries for them. Knowing that someone's in charge actually makes your child feel more comfortable." Children seem as if they want the sun, the moon, and the stars, she says. "But when they get it, it's weird. It makes them feel unsafe when we don't set limits."

Too often, Waldburger says, parents worry that giving their children limits will upset them and make them less close. But this isn't the case.

"Never once have I had a parent say that the child was less attached, less bonded [as a result of parental limits]," Waldburger says. "They always say the opposite. Once the child is getting that rest, he or she is thriving."

Provide a Transitional Object

Bedtime means separation, and that can be hard on a child. Help your child cope by finding something that can substitute for you when you leave the room, Waldburger says. Take your child to the store and pick out mommy bear (or whatever stuffed animal he or she wants). Have mommy bear help make dinner, take a bath, and read books. "Then at bedtime, you say, 'Mommy can't stay but mommy bear will be here with you,'" Waldburger says. "It gives a child a piece of you to cuddle up with when you're not there."

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Particularly for older kids, keep distractions out of the bedroom, Shu says. Electronics like TVs, video games, cell phones, and computers are sleep distractions and can be hard to control once you close the bedroom door.

Teach Your Kids to Fall Asleep on Their Own

Every parent knows this is the hardest job of all. But most sleep problems stem from this inability. Children associate certain conditions with being asleep, Waldburger says. During their lighter sleep phases, they will subconsciously check their environment for the same conditions they went to sleep with. If you were there when they fell asleep, they think you need to be there when they wake.

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