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I am a rested parent… but it hasn’t always been that way!
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Written by Susan True   


I am a rested parent…but it hasn’t always been that way. Bedtime used to be a nightmare in our house. My son found endless ways to go to bed late and I never had time alone or enough sleep myself. We were both exhausted in the mornings. I learned a few simple Triple P tips to help him have a predictable and easy bedtime routine. Now we are both rested and ready for the new day.” Triple P Parent



Both children and parents need a good night’s sleep to feel energized for the next day. Children who have a difficult time with bedtime often:

·       prolong the bedtime routine (“just one more book”)

·       refuse to go to bed

·       cry after being put to bed

·       get out of bed

·       wake up in the middle of the night

·       refuse to sleep in their own bed

If your child is experiencing any of the above, you are probably exhausted and losing patience by the end of the day. Your child is also probably not well rested and may be cranky during the day.

If your family is having a hard time with bedtime, you are not alone! One in three children under 5 years of age has bedtime issues. The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) provides some simple tips to help develop a healthy, independent sleep pattern with your child. Here are some things you can try right away.


Having a comfortable safe space will make it easier for your child to fall asleep. What comforts your child? Turning on a nightlight and providing a special blanket can be soothing parts of the bedtime routine.


Having a regular bedtime and a bedtime routine will create consistency. Children will have an easier time with transitions during the course of a day if they know what to expect. Identify a daily bedtime and stick with a regular routine. An example of a bedtime routine can be:

·       Use the potty

·       Brush and floss your teeth

·       Say goodnight to the family

·       Go to bed by a set time

·       Read a book or sing a song (parents can do with their child in bed)

·       Say goodnight to parent in the room

·       Stay in the bed until morning


Preparing your child ahead of time by explaining this routine will be helpful. You may want to create a picture poster depicting your child’s bedtime routine. You can both check this list before your child goes to bed. Giving your child some time to ‘wind down’ is also a good way to get them into their bedtime routine. Let your child know 30 minutes before bedtime that they will be going to bed in a half hour. Engage with them in calming activities such as puzzles, coloring or reading. Then again about 10 minutes before bedtime, tell your child that it is time to finish up the activity and help them get started on their bedtime routine.


Acknowledgement of your child following the steps for bedtime will encourage this behavior in the future. In the morning, you can say to your child, “That was great how you followed our bedtime steps! And you stayed in your bed all night!” This type of positive attention is often what children are seeking. If their behavior is acknowledged and sparks positive attention from you, they will most likely continue with the desired behavior. Children most often simply want loving attention. A morning routine acknowledging their new nighttime success can give them what they need.


Many parents have the goal for their child to fall asleep by herself and stay in bed, however, it is normal for children to struggle with bedtime. You may go through all of the steps but find that your child is still protesting and having a difficult time. That is common too! There are various bedtime approaches for families. Local accredited practitioners can assist in finding the best approach for your family. For more information on Triple P services please visit www.first5scc.org or contact Stephanie Bluford at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (831) 465-2217.


Remember, we cannot make a child go to sleep, but we can put them to bed, provide a comfortable environment in which sleep is likely to take place and give lots of positive attention when the night goes smoothly!



Susan True is the Executive Director of First 5 Santa Cruz County. For more information about workshops (covering common issues such as independent eating and sleeping), groups, one on one consultations, or parenting seminars, please visit www.first5scc.org or contact Stephanie Bluford at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (831) 465-2217.


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