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What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

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What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby dargus » 25 Apr 2014, 01:01

Hi,

I’m curious to find out how other parents in Taiwan deal with the bedtime and especially the bedtime routine of their young children.

Our son is 4 years old. He usually sleeps about 9 to 10 hours during the night and has a 1,5 hour nap at school every weekday (1:00 to 2:30 pm).
He does not easily fall asleep at a suitable time (usually somewhere between 10:00 and 11:00 pm)
and consequently obviously likes putting off getting out of bed (between 8:00 and 8:30) the next morning.

It would be nice if you could give some feedback on some of these questions. Any other input or suggestions would be also much appreciated.

1. -What time does your child go to bed?
-What time does your child usually get up?
-How long does your child usually sleep?
-Does your child also take a nap at school?

2. Does your child follow any bedtime routine?
One of my friends with a good sense of humor metaphorically compared bedtime with going to a ceremony in a church. This ‘ceremony’ most likely would include, going to the bathroom, to brush their teeth and to use the toilet, listen to a story (perhaps even listen a few minutes to their favorite music), or perhaps one of the parents staying in the room making sure he/she falls asleep.
-Do you tell your child a story?
-Do you let your child listen to some music?
-Do you stay with your child until he/she falls asleep?
-Does your child like to play some interactive game with you before he/she falls asleep?
-Does your child have any peculiar wishes just before falling asleep?
-Do you talk to your child about his/her day?; f.i. asking “What were the 5 best things that happened to you today?”
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby Nuit » 25 Apr 2014, 08:52

dargus wrote:1. -What time does your child go to bed?
-What time does your child usually get up?
-How long does your child usually sleep?
-Does your child also take a nap at school?


Naps: at 4, she sometimes would at school, but often wouldn't. Her teacher made a special play area just for her, when she wasn't into having a nap that particular day.
She's always gone to bed between 8 and 9, although my wife would let it run to 10pm sometimes. Too late, IMO.

dargus wrote:2. Does your child follow any bedtime routine?
-Do you tell your child a story?
-Do you let your child listen to some music?
-Do you stay with your child until he/she falls asleep?
-Does your child like to play some interactive game with you before he/she falls asleep?
-Does your child have any peculiar wishes just before falling asleep?
-Do you talk to your child about his/her day?; f.i. asking “What were the 5 best things that happened to you today?”

Routine was (and still is):
Story
Lights out
Bit of chat (about the day, or whatever)
Slow down the chat
Leave child in bed (on busy days, fall asleep with child!)
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby Blaquesmith » 25 Apr 2014, 10:10

Well, my daughter is just 1 year old (and a month), but the routine is pretty much the same.
- Bath around 9 pm, dress her with pajamas
- Play for a while if she's not tired yet (but most of the days she begins yawning just after the bath), give her milk before bed (warm milk before bed is usually a good idea)
- Soothing music (I normally use the Rockaby Baby LPs, they are lullaby versions of different rock/pop groups, or some relaxing piano music... the Studio Ghibli songs arranged for piano are perfect)
- Most of the times we give her a totally squeezable plush, usually a dog (his favourite), but a plush Cthulhu or Domo-kun work fine, too.
- If she's still pretty active, we put her on our bed, I sit with her and tell her a story (she might not understand most of it because of her age, but my voice helps her to relax)
- When she falls asleep, I pick her up and take her to her crib.

She usually wakes up about 7:30 asking for breakfast, so we give her milk and a piece of fruit, dress her, and off to daycare we go. She usually sleeps between 1 and 2 hours there, depending on how much activity they do that day.
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby Omniloquacious » 25 Apr 2014, 12:26

Our daughter is 5, and will turn 6 on May 16th. Her bedtime routine has been well established since she was very small, with no more than slight tweaking over time. It’s still very much the same as when she was 4.

She was never much of an afternoon napper, and we gave up on naps completely when she was 3 years old. Before that, it was getting more and more difficult to settle her down for the afternoon nap, and it would get delayed until later and later, no matter how obviously tired she was. Sometimes she wouldn’t fall asleep until very late in the afternoon, which messed things up badly, because then we’d have to keep her up until very late before she’d be ready to sleep at night. Once we abandoned the afternoon nap, everything was so much better, and we were able to get a very regular routine and regular sleeping hours established.

Because my wife and I are both at home all day (I work from home), we didn’t send her to kindergarten until last September, when we put her in the local elementary school. Then we immediately ran into a problem with the afternoon nap. The teachers in her school are very strict and inflexible about the afternoon nap, which I consider quite ridiculous. They force all of the children to lie down in their sleeping bags for the whole of the nap time, regardless of whether they can sleep or not. My daughter absolutely could not sleep, nor could she lie still and quiet for all of that time (an hour and a half from 1:00 to 2:30), and got told off by the teacher for not doing so, even for just sitting up. This upset her a lot, and made her very unwilling to go to school, just because of the nap-time ordeal (she was happy enough about the rest of the time at school). After a series of tearful nights (crying that she didn’t want to go to school tomorrow) and tearful mornings when we could hardly get her into the classroom, we finally agreed with the teacher that she’d just attend school in the mornings, and we’d take her home at 1 PM, after lunch and before the nap. Initially, we said we’d go with that for a month or so, and then have another try at getting her to stay for the nap. But we never managed to overcome her aversion to napping, so we finally gave up and will continue to pick her up from kindergarten after lunch for the rest of this school year.

As for the pre-sleep routine at night, it goes like this:
After dinner and a bit of play, mum takes her up for her bath at about 7 o’clock.
When she’s finished her bath, she comes downstairs to my study and gets her daily “surprise.” The surprise is a toy or book or whatever that I put in a special desk drawer while she’s in the bath. Once she has opened it, we play with it while mum has her bath. If it’s Lego (as it often is), we’ll make it or play with it in her Lego town. If it’s a book, she’ll sit on my lap and we’ll read it together. If it’s drawing, writing or colouring things, we’ll do drawing, writing or colouring together. When mum has finished her bath (at around 8 o’clock), we’ll go down to the kitchen, where she’ll take her medicine if she has any to take (alas, she’s nearly always had to since she started at kindergarten), and get her teeth brushed and flossed. We then give her a last short playtime before it’s time for a last visit to the bathroom and into bed. Mum gets into bed first while I have that last play with her downstairs, and then it’s “up the wooden hill” time (just as it was for me at her age). It’s usually about 8:30 when she gets into bed and snuggles up with mum, ready for me to read her her bedtime story. I used to just make up the stories off the top of my head when she was very small, but now I usually read them. The bedtime story normally lasts from 10 to 20 minutes, though I’ll make it shorter if she’s very sleepy, or longer if she’s still very lively. The story will be interactive, interspersed with chat about its content and related matters. At a suitable moment, I’ll close the book and say “Night night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” which she’ll repeat, and after goodnight kisses, I’ll leave the room and she’ll snuggle up to mum until she falls asleep. She’s usually fast asleep within a couple of minutes. Mum stays in bed with her and watches TV (with the sound off) until she too is ready to sleep.

In the morning, she usually gets up at about 7 o’clock, though occasionally she’s up as early as 6, and sometimes sleeps until 8. I sleep in my own room, and am usually up with the lark, but am as quiet as a mouse, so she never gets woken up by me.
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby Hokwongwei » 25 Apr 2014, 13:21

I've seen so many Taiwanese families who put their kids to sleep around 1 a.m. and let them sleep until near noon. This sets off a huge number of alarms in my Western mind. But not having had kids yet myself, I'm reserving final judgment.
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby Dr Jellyfish » 25 Apr 2014, 13:26

1. My son is nearly 4. He mostly goes to be around 7:30 pm and 8:30 pm, and sleeps until around 6:30 ish, so about 9 - 10 hours a night. His school has naps, but he's the only who doesn't like napping, so most days he's still running around while the other kids nap. We want him to nap, because it's good for learning and helps growth etc., but he likes sleeping on his front and his teachers think it's dangerous, so they don't let him. We've told them to let him sleep on his stomach with his head to the side if he wants, but they insist it's a risk. Just one of many stupid rules his school has. He won't be going back next year anyway.

2. Yes, we have a bed time routine. It's normally a bath, a cup of milk, brush teeth and then story time. I'll read him a child's story book - something like the Gruffalo, or whatever he's into at the time, then lights out. Normally takes him 15 - 20 mins to fall asleep at this point. He still wakes up about once per night. We (I or my wife) will stay with him until he sleeps. I know it's not ideal, but we have to sleep in the same room - limited space - and he's used to having someone sleep in the bed next to his while he sleeps. In terms of peculiar wishes, whichever parent is in the bed next to his, he will ask for the other one. He'll say - dad, I really like you, but I like mam more today, can you get mam? Sometimes he asks for anther drink of milk or water, insist he's not tired, or will ask me to tell him more stories.
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby dargus » 26 Apr 2014, 11:18

Everybody. Thank you for the kind feedback so far. There are a few interesting ideas in here.

Right now, we usually let him play in the park for a while. He eats dinner when he gets home. His current evening routine is: around 9:30, he takes a shower, drinks his milk at 9:45, listens to a story, brushes his teeth and goes to bed around 10:00. He usually sleeps until 8:00.

In the weekends, he usually does not take any afternoon naps and hence, may get cranky by dinner time.
Do other parents do the same; this is naps at school during the week and no naps in the weekend?
As a result, he easily sleeps round the clock (12 hours) on Sunday.
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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby GC Rider » 28 Apr 2014, 11:44

Our two girls are 3 and 5 now and they usually go to bed between 9:20 and 10 PM (though we're still working on getting them to sleep at 9:00 with lights out before 9:15). They both go to a bilingual preschool and the schoolbus picks them up at around 8:15 AM, which means we need to wake them up before 7:40 AM. At school they have an afternoon nap for an hour, I believe.

Currently our bedtime routine starts with brushing teeth at around 9:00, then we read to them from their favorite books and/or go over some of their materials from school. Recently we've added practicing English vocabulary with the flashcards from their school which they both love. But this sometimes prevents them from getting to sleep on time because they love the challenge from the flashcards and they can get in a competitive mood.

In the past, our daily bedtime routine involved what we called the "gratitude game" (or 感謝遊戲) for which I got the inspiration from various self-help books including "The Secret" (yeah, I know...). Basically, after lights out each of us gets a turn to tell the others who or what they're grateful for on that day. It can be anything, but after a while kids can get really creative. Often it's something quite surprising and detailed that never occurred to us as parents. Our kids love to play this game but sometimes they get too enthusiastic and don't want to stop, so we had to limit the things to be grateful for to 3 or 5 items. But often it would work in such a way that the kids would doze off one after the other while another person was having his/her turn. We haven't actually played this game on a regular basis after they started going to school, but we hope to make this a part of our bedtime routine again, because I believe it develops their language skills and also makes positive thinking a habit. Soft music played from a phone or tablet also helps with getting them fall asleep.
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What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby amclark119 » 20 May 2014, 15:28

So, my question is sort of related to this. Apparently, most children don't need a nap after the age of four. From the answers to the original OP - it looks like most schools do a nap for children after the age of 5, even though it's not appropriate. This can mess with night time sleep. They don't have naps at elementary schools back at home and I find it completely bizarre. Actually, at the kindergarten I taught at - the kids would get told off if they didn't sleep during nap time - even though at the age of 5 you don't need it! So - how do I find a school that doesn't force a nap time on kids? At what age do they stop forcing these crazy nap times on kids?


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Re: What is a suitable bedtime routine for a 4 year old?

Postby superking » 20 May 2014, 16:15

amclark119 wrote: At what age do they stop forcing these crazy nap times on kids?


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At about 18 years old. Then they move to an office and nap there. Once they retire they can nap all afternoon. It's something to do with the heat, if you ask me. In England you don't want your kid napping in the arvo because it means they will be awake all night.

I don't have kids but one thing I said to my sister which helped was... "Your kid doesn't know it is 9 pm. They know that the routine is a signal that it is bed time." Start the routine earlier. That is the signal to sleep, not the clock.
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