You chose Great Hearts Irving because of our rich curriculum and academics. It is vital for the young children we teach to get an adequate amount of sleep in order to be able to participate fully in our rigorous school day.
How Much Sleep Should My Child Get Each Night?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and CDC recommend at least 9 hours of sleep every night for 6- to 12-year-old children, with some children needing up to 12 hours a night.
Tips for Developing a Healthy Bedtime Routine
Set a Bedtime, and Stick to It
Decide what your child’s bedtime will be. Then, designate one clock in the house that the children can see that will be “the bedtime clock.” Tell you children, “Bedtime is when the bedtime clock says 8:30.” Once you’ve settled on the bedtime that is right for your child, make that their bedtime every night for at least a month. There may be times when bedtime can be relaxed, such as for family celebrations like Halloween, Diwali, or New Year’s, but it is important to establish good habits first before making exceptions.
Set Expectations in Advance
How would you feel if your boss asked you to do something new without telling you beforehand? Help keep your children from feeling surprised or blindsided by bedtime by (1) telling them what time bedtime is going to be ahead of time and (2) giving them verbal check-ins leading up to it. When you first get home, say, “Don’t forget that bedtime tonight is at 8:30.” Later in the evening, “Bedtime is at 8:30! That’s about one hour from now.” Half an hour later, “Bedtime is in 30 minutes!” This will reduce the opportunity for children to feel that bedtime has been “sprung on them.”
Create a Detailed Bedtime Routine
What will your family’s bedtime routine include? Brushing teeth? A goodnight song? A bedtime story? Script out exactly what you want to happen every night. Actually write it down! The clearer you are with yourself about what you want to happen, the clearer you will be able to be with your children.
Offer Lots of “No-Fault” Choices
Would you like to be ordered around all the time? Your children don’t like it anymore than you would. Bedtime is the perfect time to allow your children to feel more in control of their own lives by offering them choices between two alternatives—both of which are perfectly acceptable to you. Here are some examples of no-fault choices for bedtime:
- Would you like to brush your teeth before or after packing your lunch?
- Would you like to pack your lunch, or would you like me to pack it for you while you brush your teeth?
- Would you like to use a green or blue flosser on your teeth tonight?
- Would you like me to read you a bedtime story, or make one up?
- Would you like me to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle” or “Hush, Little Baby”?
- Would you like a piggy back ride to bed? Or a horsey back ride?
Use Enforceable Statements
Another simple strategy for reducing the number of times you’re “giving orders,” is to use “enforceable statements.” Instead of telling the child what you what her to do, instead describe what you’re going to do. (After all, that’s all you really have control over anyway.) Here are some examples:
- Rather than shouting, “Get in your bed so I can tuck you in!” say calmly, “I tuck in children who are in their beds.”
- Rather than barking, “I told you to brush your teeth!” politely announce to no one in particular, “I read bedtime stories to children who brush their teeth without complaining.”
- Rather than snapping back, “Don’t talk to me that way!” smile and say, “I’ll listen when your voice is calm like mine.”
- Rather than, “Get back in your bed!” lovingly say, “I allow children to play video games who stay in their beds.”
For more on enforceable statements, see the Love and Logic Institute’s free one-pager called “Turn Your Words Into Gold.”
Be Prepared for Your Children to Test the Limits You’ve Set
If there’s one thing children love, it’s finding ways to see if the boundaries you’ve set are really there or not. They want to know they can trust you. And trusting you means making sure that you mean what you say. As a parent, it is easy to feel powerless at bedtime. There’s not much you can take away once the day is over. Bedtime is one of the most difficult times to come up with an appropriate consequence, which makes bedtime the perfect opportunity to delay the consequence.
Rather than forcing yourself to try to come up with the right consequence on the spot, instead, give yourself some breathing room and say calmly, “Oh dear. I see that you’ve chosen to get out of bed again after I asked you not to. That’s really sad. I’m going to have to do something about it, but I need some time to think about it. We’ll talk tomorrow. Try not to worry about it. Good night!” After you’ve said this, quickly walk away or disengage from the situation. The next day, after you’ve had some time to calm down and think things over, circle back and say, “Last night you chose not to stay in bed when it was bedtime. That was an unfortunate choice. I told you I was going to have to do something about it. I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided that you are welcome to play video games when you stay in your bed. Show me that you can stay in your bed tonight and you’ll be welcome to play video games tomorrow.”
Many of these bedtime strategies are drawn from the principles of the Love and Logic® approach to child discipline. For more, visit loveandlogic.com or sign up for the Love and Logic® Insider’s Club to receive free weekly parenting tips right in your inbox.
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Proper nutrition is also crucial for children. We are proud to be able to serve a nutritious hot breakfast and lunch for every student who wants one every day. Visit greatheartsirving.org/breakfastandlunch for details on how to create a lunch account for your child and add money to it. Financial assistance with meals is available to family’s who qualify. Visit greatheartsirving.org/financialassistance for information on how to apply.