Sweet Dreams for Tweens–Why Bedtime Routines Still Work

Farmers Asleep in the Hay

“Mom, can I do some extra chores to stay up tonight?” Joshua whispered in my ear so his younger sisters couldn’t hear.

“We’ll talk about it later,” I responded with a knowing grin.

That is my tween son’s favorite reward for good behavior or extra chores—an extended bedtime. With the same amount of love and excitement Joshua has towards staying up late, he has that much disdain for going to bed at a decent hour. He does not comprehend why it’s pertinent for him to recharge every night. However, his dad and I decided years ago that our kids would benefit greatly from an established bedtime that ensured our kids received an adequate amount of rest.

After years of consistent bedtime routines, my tween son rarely puts up a fight about going to bed. His body has become accustomed to a certain schedule and he doesn’t even have to look at the clock to know if his bedtime hour is near—his internal clock is saying , ”I need rest—-now!”

Sadly, many parents give up established bedtimes. They feel it is not worth the conflict. Yet, doctors and schoolteachers remind parents that tweens are still growing and thrive from sufficient sleep.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a child in the age range of 5-10 years of age needs 11-12 hours of sleep every night. That’s hard to come by for a tween whose schedule is crunched. However, parents have to make decisions for their child’s overall best interest and in this case, it’s sufficient rest to charge the body and the mind. How can a parent take steps to improve their tween’s sleep habits?

  • Create a haven. Choose colors to use in your tween’s bedroom that are soothing and calm. Stay away from bright colors and bold, geometric patterns. Invest in a quality mattress, sheet set and bedding set. Add a touch of extra padding to lure your tween for a few more hours of rest.
  • Set-up a routine. Tweens are not too old for a bedtime routine. If your tween’s bedtime is 9 pm begin winding down around 7:30 pm. Start with showers or baths and then follow with teeth brushing and pajamas. Finish off with devotions or some one-on-one time with your child. Following a routine nightly will condition your child’s body and mind for regular shut-eye beginning at 9 p.m. or whatever bedtime your family chooses as appropriate.
  • Set a timer. Have a timer set for your tween’s wind-down time. The timer can let your tween become less dependent on mom and dad to remind them of the upcoming bedtime. Less dependence on mom and dad will give your tween an added sense of freedom as well as free up your time for other things.
  • Cut back on stimulation. Energy drinks, chocolate and many soft drinks are packed with stimulating caffeine. The last thing your tween needs in the late afternoon or evening is a pick-me-up. Instead, encourage items that can aid your tween in relaxing. Try foods such as turkey, chicken, almonds, dairy products and leafy greens. Don’t forget about your tween’s mind. Lowering the amount of TV, video games and internet can also calm his or her mind down for the evening. It’s hard to relax and slumber when visions of conquering another game level are dancing through your mind!
  • Remove all electronic devices at night. Before your tween calls it a night, have him or her, as well as the other family members, deposit all electronics in a designated area for the evening. Repeat notifications on cell phones and other gadgets will only serve to startle and disrupt.
  • Reward faithfulness. Having trouble with your tween adhering to the routine you and your spouse have established? Pick out one night a week to stay up late and celebrate! Plan on a fun activity, party food or anything that spikes your tween’s interest. Every week that he or she abides by the routine, a stay-upnight with loads of fun is rewarded in return.

Being a parent is a tough job that requires decisions to be made that are not always popular with your kids. However, the reward will come as one day your tween will grow up and appreciate the thought and time you put into molding his or her body, soul and mind. Ensuring your tween gets needed Zzzz’swill also present an opportunity to excel in school, sports and other aspects of this journey called life.

Reference article:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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