How to Make Bedtime Easy, Relaxing and Enjoyable for Everyone!
Bedtime can be a difficult time for children on the spectrum and their parents. Many will protest bedtime or create distractions, but by creating a routine and keeping calm you can make bedtime a more pleasant and positive experience for everyone. Here are a few tips on how to make it through bedtime with a child that has been diagnosed with autism.
Find a time that works for your child’s bedtime. Read their signals to find out what the right bedtime would be. When you know your child’s bedtime, stick to it. If your child goes to bed at 8:00 pm, plan for their activities to be over, their teeth to be brushed and their bedtime story to be read, so that they are falling asleep at 8:00 pm. Make sure their bedtime stays the same during the week and on weekend so that you don’t catch them off guard. Children who have been diagnosed with autism need consistency to be successful, and that includes bedtime consistency.
Create a bedtime checklist or plan. Go over it with your child every night, and make it visual so they can see each step and mark it off as you go. Many children on the spectrum are visual learners and by creating a bedtime chart, you give them the opportunity to anticipate what’s next and decrease a chance for unexpected surprises.
Make bedtime something to look forward to by changing bedtime from a time your child dreads to an enjoyable part of the day. Create a routine that includes a time for your child on the spectrum to enjoy some calming activities that make them happy, like bath time, story time, snuggling etc. Make sure that during this time you devote your full attention to your child and their bedtime needs.
Whatever the situation, make sure to stay positive. Children gather information from your tone and sense frustration, so no matter what your day was like, keep a positive attitude in order to help your child relax before bed.
No matter how much your child wants to stay up and play, it is important to follow through at bedtime. If bedtime is at 8:00 pm that means your child should be in bed and ready to go to sleep at 8:00 pm. In order for that to happen, make sure you plan your day and activities to keep consistent with their bedtime, because any changes to their schedule can cause stress or frustration in a child that has been diagnosed with autism. Although setting a schedule and sticking to it can be difficult at times, it is in the best interest of your child to follow through with their routine in order to be successful.
It isn’t only your child on the spectrum that benefits from a bedtime routine and set schedule. Parents also benefit from this as well. When your child follows a bedtime routine without protesting, it causes the parent less stress; and when your child is in bed and asleep at a certain time, you can relax and get things done before its time for you to go to bed as well.
Bedtime should be a relaxing time filled with family bonding, stories, songs, etc. It should be a time that your child looks forward to. We know it can be hard to resist your child’s plee for “an extra 10 minutes Pleeeeeeaaaassseee”, but once you do, and once you set a solid routine for your child on the spectrum to follow, bedtime will be an enjoyable time for everyone in the home.