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This is a struggle every night, and every morning.

We start around 7:30-8:00 PM..."shower time" and the struggle starts. She's got school the next morning and I'm trying to get her showered, and dressed, bed time story read, and laying down no later than 9 PM. We have to be up by 7 AM to be at school no later than 8:30 AM.

Always at night she will come up with a million random excuses, and fart around, and before I know it we are 15 minutes to 9 PM! Now I'm frustrated! So then she gets out of the shower and now "I'm hungry", grrrrr..... So I feel guilty about sending her to bed hungry despite the fact that she already had dinner earlier so I sit her down to eat and now it's about 9 PM! She eats S L O W L Y.......9:15, finally she's done and now she needs to brush her teeth and get in bed. By this time it's like 9:30 and she's asking me to read her a story, I have a rule that if you want me to read you a story you have to be in bed early. So now I feel guilty that we didn't get story time. I kiss her good night and walk out. Next thing I know she's up getting a glass of water, then a few mins later she's up again saying she can't sleep. By this time it's around 10 PM and she's asking if she can sleep in my bed so she can fall asleep easier.

I'm frustrated and exhausted, I have a 4 month old that I'm trying to contend with at the same time, I'm trying to put the house back in order before getting baby and I ready for bed (which I'm trying to get my infant on a decent sleep schedule too) and I still have my dinner mess to clean up, lunches to prepare, and 3 days a week I have to prep for my 12 hour work days and by this time I'm lucky to get 5 hours of sleep. So on my off days I get up at 7 AM and my 7 year old fights to wake up for school. (Sigh)

I want to teach my daughter punctuality, and good time management which are two things no one ever taught me and I struggle with to this very day. These are very important things to exercise in life and being that these areas aren't my strong suit how do I teach this to my daughter?

I would love to hear how other parents tackle this issue:)

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4 Answers 4

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It sounds like you have a child who has a hard time falling asleep. This was me as a kid - I didn't do all of the above, but it took me hours to fall asleep, literally. I would lie down with the lights off at 10pm, and not fall asleep for one to two hours most nights - then still wake up around 7am.

A seven year old child is old enough to have intelligent conversations about her behavior, and about the reasons for her actions as well as the reasons she may need to alter her behavior. That should be the first thing you do: have a deep, heart to heart conversation where you clearly lay out why this is an issue, why it's important - for her - that she go to bed at a certain time and wake up by a certain time (often the latter is a driving factor for the former - it's harder to wake up when you haven't slept enough). She needs to buy in to the idea of going to bed on time.

During that conversation, though, make sure the tenor is that you want to both convince her she should want to do this, but also you want to help her find ways to manage this so it's not intolerable. Ask her why she's having trouble going to sleep. She's clearly using delaying tactics; these have a reason.

My guess would be that she finds it hard to fall asleep unless she's exhausted, and that she doesn't enjoy lying down for an hour or two waiting to fall asleep. That means helping her find strategies for coping with this, and also compromising in some areas where it might be easier on you both even if you aren't getting to the 'ideal' solution.

Some strategies include teaching her to make up stories in her head - this worked well for me, and perhaps she can even record them or write them down; playing music (if she's an intelligent child, anything to give her mind something to focus on is very helpful); planning her next day out in her head; doing multiplication tables. Some kids will do better if you give them a flashlight and let them read a book in bed (no overhead lights); give the rule that she can do it so long as she wakes up without complaints, but a complaint in the morning about waking up means no reading in bed the next night.

Finally, recognize that some people simply have different circadian rhythms. Some people would be happier on a later schedule (sleeping 11pm-8am, for example). Some people, even kids, simply need less sleep. You should see if you can adapt the schedule such that she is able to still get enough sleep. Can she do all of the 'getting ready for tomorrow' things at night? Shower at night, pick out clothes at night, etc., so that all she needs to do in the AM is slip on the morning's outfit and jump in the car with a hairbrush? Maybe that extra hour of sleep in the morning would improve things. She'd have to promise to wake up right away, of course, and stick to it - but perhaps that would help things for her.

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1  
There are some great suggestions here! Thank you I will give it a shot. I kinda wonder if part of it is the new baby? She seems to want to "steal" my attention away from the baby when I'm with her, and a lot of times at night I'm giving more attention to the baby. And mornings are tough, she won't wake up, and then she drags around the house. I really don't want her to be a person who rushes everywhere, trying not to be late, or someone who is always late. Thanks again. –  1234 May 28 at 18:34
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@user7840 Sounds like your daughter is just not a morning person and/or is a night owl. I know I always have been - I never feel tired until very late, and have trouble getting up early in the morning no matter how much (or how little) sleep I got. If your daughter is anything like me, I'd definitely suggest going with Joe's last suggestion. –  Doc May 28 at 21:08
    
Other strategy for distracting her while falling asleep (and also works very well for adults!): Ask her to silently think of 3 (or 5, or 7) cities beginning with A and then continue through the alphabet. Or do the same with food items, or animals, or anything else. It works best when it's a bit difficult, otherwise she might get bored quickly. –  Little Ms Whoops Oct 7 at 13:27

Offer an incentive to do something extremely boring:

  • Reading from a Chemistry, Math, Philosophy textbook
  • Listening to a poetry audiobook
  • Any Netflix tv show on Quantum physics

Beats the heck out of counting sheep, but if it actually stimulates her mind instead of putting her to sleep: you get a genius! You can't lose.

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I can't tell whether you're serious or this is tongue-in-cheek. But the bright light of a TV (specifically the blue component) isn't conducive to sleep. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 8 at 13:47

You are far too nice, and your 7-YO has learned, subconsciously, to manipulate you to get what she wants.

Be clear that after 9pm is your time, she will get nothing other than directions back to bed. She is not hungry - you saw her eat dinner. She is not thirsty (leave a bottle of water in the bedroom to halt this complaint) and at 7 she can use the bathroom by herself.

7am is wake-up time! No exceptions, no complaining (ok, no complaining that changes anything). Turn the lights on, open the curtains, and pull the blankets off.

This will not be an easy transition - little Lucy has learned that whining, complaining and crying works and those techniques will be repeated at higher levels until her wants are met or she reaches her limit.

Parents in Victorian England did this from the birth and didn't write much about the kids not going to bed on time. Hutterites (Canadian Amish) are very strict about things like chores and bedtime. I've been to Hutterite colonies and they have the best behaved, happiest children I've ever met. No TV might be a factor too.

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+1 you're causing this. My daughter tried a spate of this around the same age and "It's 9:00, you should have thought of that earlier, get in bed. I understand you say you can't sleep, but you will stay there in bed." worked in a short amount of time. Make poor boundaries, suffer poor boundaries. –  mxyzplk Oct 17 at 3:45

My 7 year old doesn't sleep well but I find that this works. I recommend you give her a bath at 7pm to relax her as a shower will wake her up. Then it is time for you and the baby until 7:30. Then take your daughter up to bed after teeth brushing for story time and a cuddle, just you and her. She shouldn't have any food after brushing her teeth or before bed as this will give her energy. She should only have a sip of water, otherwise she will need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She should have lights out by 8 or 8:30pm at the latest as she needs at least 10 hours sleep for her age to thrive in school and have brain function. She needs to learn to stick to this routine for couple of weeks and she should get used to it. Children need a good bedtime routine. Hope this helps. Good luck.

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