And the Secret to Raising a Well-Behaved Child Is …

tired child

Do you make a concerted effort to put your child to bed at a particular time each day? If you don’t, you may want to put on your Strict Parenting Pants and enforce a regular bedtime. Why? Because new findings verify that the secret to having a well-behaved child comes down to this:

Kids don't say they're tired, they typically act it out – most commonly by being hyperactive. – Dr. Carolyn D'Ambrosio

According to a new study, “Young children who don’t have a regular bedtime behave worse than kids who go to sleep at the same time each night … The  results also revealed that behavior grew worse the more years a child spend without a firm bedtime.”

The researchers for this study found that “both mothers and teachers rated 7-year-olds who had inconsistent bedtimes as being more hyperactive than their better-rested peers, and as having more social, emotional and conduct problems.”

As an adult, I am very well aware of how a lack of sleep will affect my daily duties. I’m more irritable and less patient. It’s harder for me to focus.  (Blame it on my ADD, baby!)  I can also become a bit anti-social. When I’ve missed out on a good night’s sleep, I just don’t feel like listening to others talk; and their display of energy exhausts me. If my six-year-old daughter loses sleep, the effect is simliar.

MORE:  Preschoolers and Sleep: The Masters of Excuses   }

Data from more than 10,000 children was included in the study, which focused on a child’s relationships with classmates, hyperactivity levels, conduct, and emotional symptoms; and “having an irregular sleep schedule had the greatest effect on a child’s behavior.”

A shocking point from this study is that as the number of years without a concrete bedtime increase, your child’s behavior gets worse. Dr. Carolyn D'Ambrosio, director of the sleep center at Tufts Medical Center and the Floating Hospital for Children in Boston, said, “Having nighttime routines and a regular bedtime adds structure and consistency to a child's schedule.”

Parents need to “start the process of regular bedtimes early in a child's life. This process involves letting children know when bedtime is coming and beginning their nightly routines — brushing teeth, bathing, putting on pajamas, reading a story, dimming lights and allowing children to have a comfort item, such as a stuffed animal but limiting stimulating distractions, including a TV or iPad.”

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“Pick a bedtime that works for you and your family,” says D'Ambrosio. “It may not work every night, but just keep trying.”

Do you make a concerted effort to put your child to bed at a particular time each day? If you don’t, will you begin the process now that you know it’s the secret to having a well-behaved child?

What do you think?

And the Secret to Raising a Well-Behaved Child Is …

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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4 comments

  1. Having only partly raised one child so far, I can’t say I’m an expert, however Lyra has always been a fabulous sleeper and a very happy little girl, and I think one of the main reasons is because we started a regular bedtime and routine very early on. Even now, if she’s not quite tired, she still goes through the routine and to bed. She may talk to herself and sort of play in bed for a while before falling asleep, but she’s in bed 🙂 Plus, this makes it easier for us as parents because we know that once 8:30 rolls around, we will actually have a quiet house to ourselves to be able to spend the time we need together as well! It’s a win-win for everyone in our house!! And I truly believe that a well-rested child is generally a happy child – good to hear the experts think so as well.

  2. Michelle says:

    My child has a slightly irregular bedtime. He is also very well behaved. We let him make small decisions like what to eat and wear, and it works out quite well. He loves fruit and vegetables. And lately doesn’t want to wear shoes, other than that minor detail he’s a dream to raise. All I have to do is keep him supplied with learning material and he’s happy.

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