Help with bedtime for children

Do you dread bedtime with your child? 


"What, bedtime? But I'm just in the middle of something. Can I have longer?"

"I'm not tired...I need a drink...I have a worry..."

For some, bedtime can be a time of stress and battles - and that's just for the grown-up! I can't promise that my tips will alleviate all bedtime issues, but I hope you will find them helpful.

Bedtime tips 


Routines are really important for children. They bring organisation, familiarity and consistency. These all help with feelings of safety and comfort. Clear expectations and boundaries help the child to know how they should behave. They provide guidance and can help with discipline. Work with your child to create a bedtime routine. You could try making an illustrated booklet together that states the expected bedtime routine.

So, what should the routine look like? Every household has different needs but consider a routine that consists of bath time for your child, a light supper, teeth-brushing time, followed by story time - if that is age/stage appropriate. Allow time to reflect on the positives of the day. Don't forget to tell them how much you love them as you kiss them goodnight.

Is it that easy?

Of course not. There are plenty of things to consider when putting your routine together. It helps if children avoid electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is released to help you feel sleepy. Using computers, cell phones, TVs and other electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin. Reading a pleasant book is a much better option.

Allowing the body and mind to calm down is necessary for sleep.  Encourage your child to do activities that help them to wind down. Avoid scary movies and violent action games before bed. Mindful colouring, jigsaws and drawing may help with relaxation. Classical music can be very soothing. I use progressive muscle relaxation with both children and adults, and this can be very effective in aiding sleep. This is something that children can be taught to do.

A warm bath before bed helps induce relaxation and sleep. After a warm bath, our body temperature typically drops, and this signals the production of melatonin that aids sleep. 

Supper should not consist of foodstuffs that contain caffeine. Don't forget caffeine can be found in chocolate and tea. Non-sugary cereals, toast, and milk are some ideas for supper.

Ready to get into bed

Your child's room should be at a pleasant temperature. Avoid the room being too hot. Some children feel more secure with a weighted blanket on their bed. For those who fear monsters in their room, get yourself some monster-banishing spray. This comes directly from your tap and goes into a spray bottle. I can honestly say that spraying around your child's room with this keeps monsters away...if preferred, imaginary fairy dust serves the same purpose. Now you can reassure your child that they are safe and that as a loving parent, you would never leave them in an unsafe room. 

Make sure your child has visited the toilet before bed. You can go through a checklist with your child - warm and comfy - check their room is the right temperature and their bed is made. Not hungry - check the supper that was eaten is just right to see them through the night (or their evening meal was enough to see them through until breakfast. Not thirsty- check they have had a drink with supper. Worried...this is a different chapter...


Consider having a journal by the bed for an older child or a jar for worries for the younger child. Ensure you make time for discussion on the worries every day. Have an appointed time when the child can be assured of your complete attention. Use this time to discuss the concerns, validate how your child is feeling and work together to form coping strategies and ways to manage their concerns. Never belittle worries. Offer phrases such as "I can see that this really bothers you, let's work together to manage this." "I am glad you have shared this." It is helpful to name emotions, by doing so, we create a distance from the emotion. 

Encourage your child to write their worries in the journal or to pop them in the worry jar. Once this has been done, the worry has been removed for the night to be addressed at the appointed worry time. Obviously, some worries require immediate attention.


For the child that doesn't like the time alone in their room away from their family, it can be helpful to leave them with something that reminds them of you. Perhaps a scarf or a hankie (you could put a little of your perfume/after-shave on these items). In my article about helping children manage worries, I promoted the use of a comfort box. This is a sensory box that helps bring associations of joy, calm and happiness. This is a helpful thing to have by the bed. 

You may want to tell the child that you will check on them every 15 mins. Make this a low-key visit. Show your face at the door but don't allow your child to expect conversation.

A call-out pass/ticket can allow the child one call-out through the night. If it is not used, then perhaps it could be exchanged for a reward. Of course, if the child is in genuine need, then you may need to respond to call-outs, particularly if the child is unwell.

"I'm not tired"

If your child is not falling asleep within a reasonable time it could be that their bedtime is too early. Consider a slightly later bedtime. Children's sleep needs differ. Perhaps you may allow your child to read for a while after you have said goodnight. There are some lovely meditations to help children to sleep and this can be a soothing way to drop off.

I use hypnosis to help with sleeping issues, along with breathing strategies and plenty of fun activities.

Provided your child's sleep issues are not caused by underlying medical issues, then hypnotherapy may be just what your child needs to help them manage bedtime issues.

Why not contact me, a qualified hypnotherapist with over 30 years experience of working with children in play and learning settings, for a free phone consultation?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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