Trick Them Into Sleeping!

I know you know how important sleep is for your child’s health and development. We talk about it a lot here at M.O.C., so I’m not going to try and convince you of why to take it seriously. Instead, I’m going to give you some ammunition that hopefully, will help you to get your kids on board too, if they aren’t already.

I’m always looking for ways to make the battle (whatever it is at the moment) a little easier. I’m a big believer in taking a preventative approach and nipping the argument in the bud whenever it comes to getting a kid to do something he might not want to do — like going to bed, for instance.

Why argue if you can sell it as an attractive option instead? So what if there’s a slight con job involved? I’m all for making a game out if it whenever possible.

So years ago, when my pediatrician casually mentioned that children do the vast majority of their growing while they are asleep (HGH, the human growth hormone, is released during sleep), I immediately began to put that bit of information to good use.

“This is great!” I thought. “What kid isn’t dying to get a little taller? They all want to grow-up as fast as they can — just look at how enthusiastic they are about marking their growth on the garage door! They love to check that smudged chart regularly to see how many inches they’ve added since the last time we took stock. This growing thing is going to be my ace-in-the-hole when night time rolls around.”

Later, I found out that memories are stored during sleep — so whatever they struggled to learn that day at school or later on while working on their homework gets “filed” in their brain if they get a good, long, sound sleep that night. Research has shown that those memories get stored in a way that stimulates insight and creativity which later on seeps into conscious thought.

At that point, I knew I was golden. I had two powerful arguments to use when trying to convince them that they actually DID want to get to bed on time.

I know you can put this together, as I quickly did, to give yourself a leg-up in the time-to go-to bed battle that shows up night after night in homes everywhere. You can totally nail the sleep thing by adding this dialogue to your already established bedtime routine. Just remember to sell, sell, sell. Don’t be ashamed to use your marketing skills to the max, custom tailor your sales pitch to your particular child and her particular interests and keep it enthusiastic at all times.

“This is totally going to help you at basketball because it’s proven that you do your growing while you sleep. So this is the tried and true way to get taller!”

Or, “Wow! You did such a great job on your homework tonight. You worked hard on figuring out all those math problems. Now, let’s get them stored in the filing cabinet in your brain so you don’t forget what you’ve learned.”

Or, “All the stuff you learned today is going to mix in with the other stuff you already know so you can think up new solutions and ideas for all sorts of problems IF you get a really good night’s sleep tonight!”

Yes! You get the idea, right? Simple! So get out there mamas and get those kids to bed and then (silver lining) you can reclaim your nights! Whoo whoooooo!!

P.S. This also works great with teenaged boys and girls, too.

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Ellen W. Schrier, LCSW, is a family therapist and the mother of three adolescent/young adult kids.

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