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Is Your Child a Night Owl?

It's 11 p.m. on a school night. You're standing in the doorway of your 8-year-old's bedroom delivering a warning.

"If you don't get to sleep right now, I'm going to..." What? Let's face it: Parents cannot make children fall asleep on command.

If you're the parent of a night owl child whose inner clock tends to keep him or her up an hour or two later than other children, there's no sense insisting on the child falling asleep at an unrealistic bedtime.

Parents can spare themselves enormous frustration by being flexible about bedtimes. Aim for nine or 10 hours of sleep, but if the child gets an hour or two less on some nights, don't panic.

Here are tips for helping (not forcing) your grade-schooler to drift off to dreamland:

  • Establish a winding down routine each night. For example, read a story to the child in the same place.

  • Encourage a pre-bedtime bath or warm shower. The soothing rush and sound of water often serves as a natural sleep aid for kids.

  • For younger children maintain the same bedtime every night regardless of whether it’s a weekend, holiday, or even summertime.

  • Keep your sense of humor. Remember that wrestling with kids over bedtime is a universal experience.