Fights over bedtime with older children can turn into huge power struggles. As Circle of Moms member Yaima G. notes, they're not teens, they're not tots, and they're tough to get to bed because they just don't want to be there. Her 9-year-old puts up a big fight at bedtime, insisting that "she is older now and she feels [it] is not fair that she has to go to bed so early."
To help you win your own bedtime battles, here are five helpful strategies from Circle of Moms members on how — and when — to get your big kids to bed.
1. Be Consistent
Many Circle of Moms members advise that keeping the rules for bedtimes the same every night is very important. "Consistency is the key for everyone in the house to follow," says Elise H. "We all have to encourage and follow the rules so that it becomes a way of life. Teenagers develop discipline and are confident about letting friends know when to stop being on the cell phone or when to go home after hanging out at the park or neighbor's house." Janine B. agrees: "You need to put your foot down. It will be a struggle initially...but stay strong."
2. Blame it on School Rules
Moms may also get support in the bedtime issue from school leaders. "My 10-year-old's bedtime is actually 8:30," says Nyssa R. "I don't think we will plan on changing it until he is 12. He actually had a form sent home from school the other day because they were having some testing, and it was asking us to commit to make sure he went to bed by 9 p.m. for that week." She adds that she believes 8:30 to be a good bedtime for kids that age.
3. Offer Incentives
Some Circle of Moms members dangle the golden carrot of a later bedtime if their kids cooperate now. "I would like them to be asleep by at least 9 p.m. but that never seems to happen," says Amy B. "I have told them that if they start going to bed on time then their bedtimes will [eventually] change."
4. Sidestep the Power Struggle
For pre-teens who simply want to be in control, bedtime can become a prime time for picking a fight with their parents. That's why Ashley B. recommends not engaging in that fight. Instead, she suggests, maintain your high expectations of your child during the day. Encourage your child to learn to manage himself so that he can function well at home and school.
5. Quash the "But Everyone Else Does" Argument
Big kids will negotiate bedtime and plead that all their friends get to stay up later than they do. It is up to you to deflect that argument, advise moms like Cheryl K.: "My kids fight our 9:30 bed rule all the time. All we ever hear is 'our friends' parents let them stay out later than that.' Our standard and truthful reply to these whines and complaints is that 'we are not your friend's parents, we are your parents, and if your friends are telling you the truth, which they probably might not be, then their parents obviously do not care for them as much as we care about you.'"
How do you get your kids to bed?
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