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  • Celine Owen-Thomas

Bedtime Battles in older Children

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Children love being in control. They spend most of their day not being in control of what happens to them, which can cause a lot of frustration and pushing of boundaries. This can often be very visible during the bedtime routine.

So what can we do?

1. Remain consistent—the most important tip of all. Children are incredibly talented at stalling. So be very clear from the start on the steps to bedtime and stick to it (do not give in to one more book plea!).

2. Give them some control. Put them in charge of something small, such as "Do you want to wear your dinosaur or fairy pajamas?" or "Do you want to read Harry Potter or Winnie the Pooh? (Older children can pick their own books).

3. Create a visual bedtime routine on some paper of all the bedtime steps (pictures of bath, pj's, brush teeth, book, toilet, song, and bed). Get them involved. They can either check it off as they go along or read the next step aloud. You can even buy a fancy velcro one from Etsy.

4. Reward charts are very powerful. When using one, you'll want to ensure that some of the goals or behaviors your child is working toward are achievable, e.g. put PJs on, as this will be highly motivating. You can then build up to ten stickers, which will equal a reward (screen time, toy). You can sit down with older children and talk about what you want to see happening at bedtime and what rewards they can earn if they complete those behaviors.

5. If stalling still occurs, you can try making a bed pass for older children, a piece of paper that looks like a ticket which they get to use once for either the toilet, song, or cuddles, then that's it until tomorrow.

6. Limit screen time before bed. Ideally an hour before bedtime. Not always easy but even if it's just 15 mins before, this will help them wind down more effectively.

7. Night lights are a great tool. Just remember that you have to be very consistent with it and never get them out of bed unless the light has turned green or the sun has come up.

No changes are instant, and they will require reinforcement, repetition, and consistency. Make sure all carers are on the same page and are doing the same routine. Make some tweaks to take into account your little ones personality. You will get there !

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