Your 7 1/4-year-old: Bedtime battles

Your 7 1/4-year-old: Bedtime battles

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Your 7-year-old now

Considering how busy a typical day is, you'd think your child would be bushed and ready for bed at the end of the day. But even if he's tired, that doesn't mean he'll stay in bed once he's put there.

Grade-school kids resist bedtime for many reasons. The main one is that they're wound up about the day. Anxieties about the various issues they face growing up are percolating beneath the surface all day long (how well he's doing in school, whether he and his friends are getting along, an argument with a sibling, his favorite pants suddenly being too small!).

Rebelling at bedtime is a teeny way he can exert some control over his life. Plus, he might find being with you a lot more interesting than lying in the dark with a blanket and teddy.

Don't give in. Your child really needs his sleep, and if you soften on letting him stay up one or two nights, the habit will become more intractable. When he wanders out into the house, lead him back to bed and offer a brief but reassuring back rub or tuck-in.

Sticking to a consistent bedtime routine can help ease your child's anxieties. Even though he should be able to brush his own teeth, bathe, get into pajamas, and read all by himself, remain a part of the process to help him transition from day to night. Talk about his day and how it went. This gives him an opportunity to vent a little and hear your reassurances.

Your life now

Two words to banish from your vocabulary: "Hurry up!" Many parents use these words more often than they think – frequently accompanied by sighing, screeching, or toe tapping. This just tends to make your child feel guilty for making you angry. But it doesn't often motivate him to move faster.

Rather than hectoring (“I told you to turn that show off five minutes ago!”), look for calm ways to help speed your child along – like turning off the program yourself.

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