Parents can positively affect their child’s behavior by taking three actions. These steps will provide a foundation that supports the child’s social-emotional development. The actions will teach children skills that lead to more behaviors that parents want to see, and fewer of the ones they don’t want to see.
In addition to benefits for the brain and for behavior, having regular bedtime routines and getting adequate sleep has positive impacts on children’s health, including regulation of blood sugars and a decreased risk for childhood obesity.
Often, bedtime routines are cited by parents as one of the most challenging parenting experiences. However, learning routines is like learning any other skill for a young child – through repetition and practice, they can master the routine and benefit from a consistent sleep schedule.
How do we begin? First, by defining the problem to be outside, separate from ourselves. An example might be, “We need to find a better way to deal with the laundry” (a situation) rather than, “You never help with the laundry” (which makes your partner the problem).
Another important piece of the fearless problem-solving process is for each person to say what each wants in regard to the situation, rather than what’s wrong about it. For some of us, saying what we want is more unfamiliar and challenging than to say what’s wrong. However, an essential part of defining the problem is listening to and exploring what each wants and how close or far apart the wants are.