The Search for Bedtime Tranquility (part 2)

Part 2: How to develop a schedule for a healthy bedtime routine

Link & Luke Morris

Evening is here with nighttime fast approaching. Dinner is over, dishes are done and we are all just relaxing. One kid is sprawled on the couch, another is running around and around and the last is watching TV and yawning. It must be time to get these kids in bed! So the command is given and the whining starts. All the excuses are thrown out, crying and screaming starts and the anger is palpable. I think maybe somebody is cranky. Maybe a little tired. And really not sure why at that moment he has to give up his show just at the good part. Most of this pandemonium can be avoided with a bedtime schedule set up and the use of a great behavior point system, like PopChart.Family.

A working schedule for bedtime provides the consistency children need. They love to know what is going to happen next and really do thrive on the structure this provides. I will provide some steps for setting up your schedule.

Step 1 What time do you want your kids in bed and settled down? What is realistic for your lifestyle and your household. What does your child(ren) need? Do all of your children go to bed at the same time or do you want to stagger it? What does your bedtime routine consist of? Example: brush teeth, put on pajamas, read story, restroom, tuck into bed.

Step 2 In what order do you want these bedtime practices to occur and where? For example do you want them to put on their pajamas and brush their teeth before or after story time? Do you want to read to them on the couch or in their beds? What is easier for you in this bedtime routine? Remember you are setting up this schedule so changes can be made as needed.

Step 3 Be sure and communicate with all those involved in setting up the scheduled bedtime practices. Give the kids some choices to ensure they know they are an important part of this. Figure out which pieces of the bedtime practices are set in stone for you and which you are able to give the kids choices about. Decide what to do about staying in bed after they are tucked in. Explain why you are doing these bedtime practices and include ‘for everybody’s health and well being’.

Step 4 Once you figure out all these steps, you will need to know how much time to allow for completing the bedtime practices and have the kids in bed when you want them there. If bedtime is 8 pm, you may need to start at 7:30. For example: PJs-8 min., teeth brushed-5 min, story-15 min then tuck into bed 5 min. Remember these are just averages and may take less or more time depending on the day. Just make it realistic so it can be a relaxed and enjoyable time.

Step 5 Begin your bedtime practices. Remember it takes at least six weeks of consistent practice to make this a habit for everyone. There will be disruptions, whining and defiance. Keep up these bedtime practices whenever possible so your children understand this is your life and everybody needs this. Don’t forget to use your point system, ie PopChart.Family, to cut down on the whining and defiance. Stay calm, patient and relaxed throughout this process and the children will learn that bedtime is a nice tranquil time that is meant to refresh our energy for a new day.

The use of a behavioral point system like PopChart.Family, provides us with reinforcement for the good behavior our children display. It is never a system that is meant to continue forever with each behavior you want to change. Occasional reinforcement may be needed to remind the children that their good behavior is appreciated and celebrated! Over time the behavior is learned and rewards will come from within when they are confident and comfortable with their new positive self.

With a behavioral point system like PopChart.Family in the works you may be giving points every step of the way. I like rewarding kids that have done as expected liberally at first and then taper off as their positive behaviors become habitual. Always keep a look out for positive ways to reinforce any good behavior. Award points if they stay in bed as well. If they are truly frightened that is another issue that requires attention, listening and resolving.


The Search for Bedtime Tranquility series:

  • Introduction
  • Part 1 — Do they really know what to do?
  • Part 2 — How to develop a schedule for a healthy bedtime routine
  • Part 3 — Let PopChart help you get the peaceful evenings you crave

About the Author

Anita Licklider has a MS in Educational Management, credentials in special education, general education, counseling and School Psychology. She has over thirty years of experience working with children in and outside the educational setting.

She has done individual and group counseling with kids from 4 years to 16 years old.

Anita also developed and implemented behavior intervention plans for special education and general education students and families. She advocated for kids writing IEP and 504 plans for the school districts.