A study of 10,000 children between 3 and 7 years old found a kid’s bedtime should be the same every night to avoid problem behaviors.
Tuck the kids in bed, read them the book I Love You Forever, make yourself a sweet Blackberry Mojito and read this post. It’ll give you the resolve to put your monkeys to bed even when they really, really don’t want to go.
Sometimes you can’t deal with the stress of what it takes to get the kids to bed on time. I get it. All parents get it.
It’s been a crazy day and you’re way too tired to spend an ounce more of energy to get your child to bed. When they’re going at full throttle and their “I’m not tired” whines have reached a new record even for them, sometimes we give up and we give in. What could another half hour hurt anyway?
Unfortunately for bone-weary parents everywhere, it could cause a lot more problems than the temporary aggravation of the bedtime battle.
Why Your Kid’s Bedtime Should Be Set In Stone
A research paper titled Changes in Bedtime Schedules and Behavioral Difficulties in 7-Year-Old Children is a dry read, as all great studies can be, but packs a lot of important information.
The study sought answers to three questions.
Are bedtime schedules associated with behavioral difficulties? Do the effects of bedtime schedules on behavior build up over early childhood? Are changes in bedtime schedules linked to changes in behavior?
1. Their behavior gets worse. No surprise here. Everyone with a toddler knows what kind of nuclear meltdown can take place, usually in public, when they haven’t slept. It’s not only toddlers. This will happen to kids of all ages when they’re tired.
2. Children can gain unhealthy weight. From a follow-up study, researchers learned that unpredictable bedtimes can be cause for self-regulation problems. It’s the same in adults.
If we aren’t careful, we will eat unhealthy foods more often and in larger amounts when we’re tired.
(In addition to a regular bedtime, the study also looked at the impact of regular mealtime and strict limits on watching television and/or videos.)
3. A kid’s bedtime that’s a moving target is like jet lag. It’s true. If you’ve ever had jet lag you know what a monster it can turn you into. You wander around like you’re in an episode of The Walking Dead, barely able to do all the “peopley” things adults need to do. That’s how your kids feel when they have unpredictable bedtimes.
4. Bad effects are reversed as soon as kids have a set bedtime. Thank heavens these cute little humans are resilient. (They really are miracles, aren’t they?) Once you set a bedtime and stick to it, no matter how dramatic they may be when it’s that time, you’ll “fix” the other problems.
Do you always get your kids to bed at the same time?
I wish I could say I’ve always gotten this right. Sorry researchers, but sometimes parents can’t begin to get the kids to bed at a decent hour, much less the same time every night.
But, if we can do it more often and make it a real priority, we’d be setting our kids up for success in their day.
Do you have any bedtime hacks for getting your kiddos to bed the same time each night? Please, please, please share to help exhausted parents everywhere!