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Preschoolers and Bedtime
Young children under the age of five, unless they are extremely tired, can totally resist going to sleep. For many parents, this can make bedtime into the most dreaded part of the day. The issue can be particularly troublesome if the child has older brothers or sisters who stay up later into the night. The preschooler will want to stay up late so that he doesn't miss out on activities that his siblings are enjoying. These feelings are understandable, so there is no harm in sometimes granting extra stay-up privileges for your preschooler – but do bear in mind that children of this age do need at least 10 hours of sleep every night.
For a few hours before going upstairs, try to get your preschooler into a calm and comfortable mood. Avoid physical activity. That way, your child will be able to relax, and will be in the right frame of mind when it's time for bed.
When your child is in bed, read him a story. You should aim for a standard routine in which your child understands that at the end of the story, the lights go out, and it's time for him to go to sleep. At the end of the story and when you have said your goodnights, you should not allow your child to stall you. Additionally, you should not allow the child to persuade you to stay with him until he goes to sleep – because if you do, your child will always depend on you every time that he goes to bed.
Most children of this age will sleep through the night, although they will often wake up to check out his surroundings before falling back to sleep. There may be some nights when your child has extremely active dreams that cause him to wake up. Dreams usually come from events that occurred during the previous day, and can be extremely vivid, and scary, for young children.
Older children are better able to understand that that dreams can not hurt them, but preschooler may need to be reassured that the images in their dreams are not real. If you child wakes in the middle of the night, crying and scared, you should immediately run to hold him and talk about the dream that he had. Stay with your child until he calms down. When you are ready to go back to sleep, remember that these are only dreams that your child is having, and it is perfectly normal – not a serious problem.
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