When you were little, did your parents ever threaten to send you to bed early because you were misbehaving?  Have you ever been tempted to say the same thing to your kids?  How about rewarding them by letting them stay up late?Of course, children often see going to bed only in terms of the fun they may be missing.  But we parents know better, don’t we?

Kids can be sleep leaders and toddler sleep training need not be a battle

Give kids the right tools and they will lead!

The reality is that when you put your child to bed at an appropriate time you are always giving more than you are taking away.  You’re giving them the opportunity to rest their bodies and minds, repair tissues, stabilize hormones…GROW…the list goes on. With the exception of food and water, adequate sleep may be the most important biological need human beings have. And with the all of the demands placed on today’s families, it’s a more precious commodity than ever. So whenever you speak to your children about bedtime, always remember that it’s a gift, and never make it a punishment or the basis of a threat. This helps keep you and your toddlers and young children on the same team when it comes to sleep.

Which is not to say that, when your toddler tosses her dinner across the room, you can’t comment that she seems tired and might feel better if she went to bed early tonight.  In that case, you’re identifying a need and offering to fill it, not removing the “privilege” of staying up. And when you can, give yourself the gift of an early night once in a while, too.  Your body will thank you for it and you’ll set a good example at the same time. Dr. Sasha Carr is a pediatric sleep expert who helps parents with toddler sleep training as well as other sleep issues for families. Dr. Carr has helped several hundred families through her sleep coaching practice,  Off to Dreamland. She is also a faculty member of the Family Sleep Institute and the resident sleep specialist at Willows Pediatrics Group in Westport, CT.

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