A loving bedtime ritual takes your child from the safety of your presence in the daytime to the safety of your non-presence in the dark. But television is not your ally in the transition. Television, or any form of screen time, delays bedtime. It stimulates rather than calms a child, and isolates her at the very time you need to draw close.
Your child needs you. Begin bedtime with a quiet activity together. End it quietly, as well. Save something - prayers, or a whispered good night to the stuffed animals in her room - for after your child is in bed. Then leave with a reassuring "Good night. Sweet dreams. I love you."
If your child calls out or cries for you:
- Go to your child, but do not take her out of bed.
- Tell her, "It is time to go to sleep. You can do it. Good night."
- Go back again and again, if necessary. A child left to cry hysterically in the dark will hardly let go of you the next night.
- Be reassuring.
- Be brief.
- Be consistent.
- Be together if you are a two-parent family.
- Hold the line with a loving, firm voice. On this your child has no choice.
A Colorful Thought: Rituals are the comforting colors of love a child can count on to be repeated, day after day.