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4 ways to improve your child's bedtime routine

Most kids need much more sleep than they actually get, so putting it back on the priority list, especially as school begins, is a must.
/ Source: TODAY Contributor

Check back with TODAY Parents every day for a new tip on starting the school year off right. Today's topic: Perfecting your child's bedtime routine.

Have you seen the meme that says: “I want a do-over for all the sleep I didn’t get as a kid”? Weary parents crave sleep, but for kids, every night can be a line drawn in the sand that they don’t willingly cross.

Most children need much more sleep than they actually get, so putting it back on the priority list, especially as school begins, is a must.

Sleep? Who, me?Shutterstock

Let’s look at four strategies that can help you do that:

  1. Full "baskets." When we change our own routines so that we are giving our kids the one-on-one attention they need, they require (and demand) less attention at nighttime. One of the favorite tools in the Un-Entitler toolbox from "The Me, Me, Me Epidemic" is called Mind, Body, and Soul Time. Giving your kids just 10-15 minutes a day of uninterrupted, all-about-them time can fill their emotional basket in substantial ways. Fill those baskets during the day, and nights will become a lot easier.
  2. Watch your words. Is bedtime portrayed as the bad guy in your home? “Do something wrong and you’ll go straight to bed!” Sleep time gets a bad reputation for a lot of families, according to Heather Turgeon, co-author of “The Happy Sleeper,” so it’s no wonder kids aren’t beating down a path to their beds. Instead, consider a re-branding strategy for sleep at your house. Start calling bedtime “snuggle time” and talk about what’s GOOD about going to sleep, rather than making it feel more like punishment than reward.
  3. Turn the “world” off. For many kids, the TV, computer, or smart phones are their window to the world, but studies show late night screens are keeping our kids awake and away from the real, healthy sleep they need. Give your screens a “lights out” time of at least two hours before kids go to bed.
  4. Be consistent. If bedtime is 8 p.m. one night, 8:15 p.m. the next and 9 p.m. on weekends, there is no bedtime and you’ll forever be in negotiations. Bedtimes should be the same seven days a week because kids’ bodies need a certain amount of sleep whether it’s a Wednesday or a Saturday!

Here’s to new bedtime routines in your home that have everyone sleeping a lot easier!

Follow TODAY Parents' 14-day calendar for a tip a day on getting the new school year off to a healthy, happy start.

Looking for more tools for rock star routines at your house? Check out Amy’s new book, "The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World"