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Bedtime Hassles

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This is a selection from the book Raising Children Who Think For Themselves by Dr. Eisa Medhus. From the chapter titled Specific Child Rearing Challenges - How to Handle Them to Encourage Self-Direction, the following introduction is offered.

"The best way to make children good is to make them happy." - Oscar Wilde

Here are some inner-directed suggestions that will help with some of the most trying child-rearing difficulties we may stumble upon. All of these approaches are designed to preserve your children's ability to rely on internal dialogue instead of external influences to assess and correct their behavior. Using this section as a ready reference will help you raise a self-directed child, even if it means carrying the book, tattered and tear-stained, to the market, in the car, or at home. There are some challenges that, I hope you will never have to face, but others will be as inevitable as a pimple on prom night.

To get to self-direction, there are a few universal caveats that apply to the described behavior. First, our children need to understand and agree with both the need for the rule and the consequence for breaking it. Only when they come to agree with our rules, through their own internal dialogue, will they become self-directed. Second, look to your own parenting strategy as the possible source of some of the problem. Are you over-controlling or over-protective? Either trait can elicit an externally directed response, as your children react to an unhealthy situation. Third, remember for all these parenting challenges how important it is for you as parents, to model the right behavior. If you're expecting your children to act one way and you act another, the double standard will throw a monkey wrench into their whole internal dialogue machinery.

And lastly, don't forget to laugh.

Bedtime Hassles

Why They Do It
Most children resist going to bed because they don't want to miss any of the action happening with the rest of the family. Sometimes, they enjoy waging a great big power struggle, because that means they get more of your attention.

Logical Consequences
If your children don't finish their "pre-bedtime" routine in time, like brushing their teeth, taking their bath, and putting on their pajamas-guess what! There won't be enough time for a bedtime story. (Be sure to always find enough time to tuck them in and kiss them, though.)
If your children get to bed late, they'll be tired, and next day and you can capitalize on their sleep deprivation by creating logical consequences. "Jane, you look exhausted after not getting enough sleep. I guess you won't be able to go to Mirel's party today after all."

Solutions Toward Self-Direction
Give choices: "Would you like to go to bed at 7:30 or 7:45 tonight?"
Use questioning: "What are our rules about getting ready for bed?" "So, what do you need to do now?"
Use impartial descriptions and information: "It's important to get enough sleep every night to feel good the next day." "I guess we won't be able to go to the park tomorrow, since you won't have had enough sleep tonight."
Use humor: "The sleep fairy is twitching. She has a nervous breakdown when kids don't go to bed on time."
Never fall for the "one more glass of water" routine. My five-year-old used to come up with all sorts of excuses: "I have one more question." "I need to go pee-pee." "I need to go poo-poo." "I'm thirsty." "I forgot to hug you." "I forgot to give you a kiss." If the original routine is followed to the letter, everything else is just a stall tactic. Bedtime means they must remain in their rooms until morning. Trust me, they won't die of thirst or hunger, and they won't drown in a puddle of pee in their sleep.
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