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My 9-year-old goes to bed between 6:00 - 7:00 pm, though she doesn't go to sleep for an hour or so later. Her teacher was "very concerned" about us putting her to bed so early and commented that it "may be considered abusive".

I can't see how this would be construed as abuse. Her teacher also said it was "selfish" because my wife and I want to spend time together in the evening.

I addressed this with my daughter's teacher very firmly and invited her to call CPS if she thought we were abusive. The more I think about it, the madder I get. I can't seem to find anything that would indicate abuse. In fact, most of the material I've found on online forums indicate that a 9-year-old needs 12 hours of sleep. Most parents (on the messages) put their 9-year-olds to bed at 8:00pm because they get up around 7:00am. Our daughter has to get up at 5:15am, so I see nothing wrong with putting her to bed at 6:00pm to wind down before going to sleep around 7:00-7:30pm.

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Your teacher thinks it may be abusive. You do not. It's not really a question that we can answer here, as it's going to be entirely subjective. All that said, if it's working for your child and they aren't upset, then I don't see the harm. –  DA01 Sep 13 '13 at 19:48
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Personally, I would consider the getting up at 5:15 to be the abusive part, but only jokingly. ("Not a morning person" doesn't even begin to cover it.) –  Martha Sep 13 '13 at 20:22
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what does the daughter says? –  bpgergo Sep 14 '13 at 5:56
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I understand that this may be subjective, but I was looking at what could possibly lead someone to such a conclusion (e.g., case studies where abuse has been proven). I can't understand how someone could draw such a conclusion, other than their own interpretation and grossly inappropriate assumptions. –  Kevin P. Kilburn Sep 16 '13 at 13:32
    
I thought I saw an earlier reply that mentioned that I should have taken the opportunity to discuss the teacher's concerns rather than invite her to call CPS. Just for clarification, that was the culmination of a conversation that was going nowhere. The teacher, rather than address this privately with my wife, chose to chastise her in front of the other parents by saying "I think something is seriously wrong with putting your child to be that early" when my wife said she was unable to attend a meeting. I asked the teacher why it was any of her business, and that's when she implied abuse. –  Kevin P. Kilburn Sep 16 '13 at 13:36

6 Answers 6

I was a foster parent for a year. I met parents who were unequivocally abusive. One thing I took from that experience is that the term "abusive" is applied way too frequently to normal parents who at worst are making honest mistakes and at best just have a different parenting style. It dilutes the impact of the word, and in my opinion dishonors truly abused children. That label should never be applied to parents who are honestly and kindly trying to do what's right for the health of their child.

That being said, even if it doesn't rise to the level of abuse, it's possible such an early bedtime may be a mistake. You didn't mention how the topic came up with the teacher in the first place, or what your daughter's daily agenda is like. If she effectively has no awake time at home, it might be worth sacrificing an hour or two of sleep in order not to deprive her of those learning and social opportunities.

One thing is that kids don't usually need their wind down time to be in bed. You can just have a "settle down" hour where only quiet and still activities are allowed. Don't assume it will still take an hour to wind down if you put her to bed later. It might take a while to adjust to the new routine, but assuming no medical problems, kids generally will fall asleep within 5-10 minutes when their bodies are ready to sleep.

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"It dilutes the impact of the word, and in my opinion dishonors truly abused children." simply cannot be said enough. –  monsto Sep 23 '13 at 7:45

I would add that children that don't sleep what they need tend to be physical instead of intellectual when facing problems. So sleeping too lite is often a source for frustration and small fights.

What Karl said about calming down the last hour is good. We always read a story to our children in a way to calm down and also create a routine so their body knows that that the reading moment is a "call to bed" and it works.

Here in Sweden, what you describe is the standard good practice to guarantee the children would sleep what they need. And in the summer the sun is shining strong when its bed time ( because we are quite up north), so we need to keep the bedtime anyway. We explain them why we go to bed when the sun is up. I think explaining is important.

If you say your daughter goes up at 5:15am, I think you are doing what's best for her. Try to make some routine around bed time procedure and calm down activity.

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To be perfectly honest I get a yellow flag here.

In my opinion, I think that 7pm is too early... but that's just my opinion. I mean, you're the one that knows your kid, not me. Right? Yeah.

But I certainly wouldn't call it abusive.

I would however call the teachers expression of 'concern for abuse' a full-on threat. I see that statement as "I don't agree with that, and I'm in a position to do something about it."

I could be wrong, and would be glad to be wrong. However, it's no more of a leap to that opinion than it was for the teacher to leap to the 'abusive' label. And it hurts absolutely nothing take steps to protect yourself against such a vague threat.

I would suggest that you get out in front of it. That you talk to the administrator/principle of the school and the in-house child psych professional (if there is one). I would suggest that you tell them of the conversation, tell them what the teacher said, and tell them that YOU are concerned...

I am concerned that there may be a misunderstanding of roles that leads to a protracted ordeal about details in our home life.

Which, in my opinion, is just as vaguely threatening.

I suggest that you do this not to head off the teacher but because first strike tends to get preference. If the teacher hollers abuse, it's the assumption going in. If you bring this up today, then it will be assumed that you're just looking out for your child and the impact of the teachers opinion will be minimized.

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I agree with this. If you are accused of abuse, and you aren't guilty of it, take it very seriously. –  deworde Sep 23 '13 at 8:26
    
@deworde I really thought that this was going to be a -1 factory for me. But I guess it's my job to be the hardass around here and sometimes people like it (= –  monsto Sep 23 '13 at 18:00
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This goes beyond the boundaries of the question, but I think the point you're making is important. I cannot imagine the problems it would add to my life if someone overheard a teacher calling me "abusive" about an early bedtime and missed the context of the situation. And this was apparently in front of other parents, so that's 100% given. Therefore I'd complaining politely to the head so fast there'd be rubber marks on the carpet. –  deworde Sep 24 '13 at 8:28
    
I never looked at it like that. I just assumed she was highly opinionated and overeacted to something she didn't agree with. There must be a precedent in her life for such an accusation. I went to bed around 7pm until I was in 5th Grade (and still do sometimes). In fact, my parents would make me stay up later to keep me from going to bed eariler. In my opinion, that's more "abusive" than vice versa. –  Kevin P. Kilburn Sep 25 '13 at 16:15

As a former teacher, and a child that was raised alongside children that had been removed from their homes for actual abuse, I'm angry for you reading the details of your question!!! This teacher, from the information you included, has stepped way "out of bounds" and you need not worry about her statement having any truth to it. I agree whole-heartedly with KarlBielefeldt's sentiments about dilution of the word abuse.

You are right that kids need their sleep and if she has to get up early, her bedtime should be adjusted to an earlier time as well. Getting enough sleep is crazy important - far more important than most of us think it is and effects a lot of things about our daily lives we don't realize. I struggle with Restless Legs Syndrome and often lose sleep over it. The realities of being sleep-deprived for adults are bad enough with they way it effects weight, mood, and memory (among other things), but when you consider the detriment to a young growing body, it is even more serious.

We know a lack of sleep affects the ability of the brain to learn, remember and focus as well as the child's mood (In fact, there is at least one hypothesis connecting sleep deprivation and ADHD). We also know that much of a child's growth happens during their sleep - or at least, that is when the highest most intense part of Human Growth Hormone release happens. You are doing the right thing by prioritizing sleep!

When I taught, I frequently told parents to prioritize sleep over even homework more. If they didn't get it done, Saturday morning could be used to catch up. Parents were often surprised to have a teacher tell them this, but kids really do need their sleep, and it needs to come first.

Having said that, I think a 9 year old falls into the category of kids that need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep, so she may not need the full 12 hours to be healthy. If you are sacrificing family time, or she is complaining none of her friends go to bed that early or something, you might experiment with slightly less sleep and see if she still seems herself. If she does, you know you can move that bed-time up by half an hour (or more depending on your child) without risking her well-being. If your schedule isn't bothering anybody except her teacher, than stick with it and WAY TO GO!!!!

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I do not think putting your child to bed at 6pm abusive. I remember as a child my brother who was 2 years younger than me and myself always been bathed and in our pyjamas by 6pm and bedtime was usually between 6-30pm - 7pm. We would then have to be up by 7pm the following morning and ready to go to School. Our Mother always liked us to have at least 12hrs sleep each night. I think this continued till I was about 12yrs old.

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Thats not at all abusive, making children go to bed early by 7 is too good . they get adequate amount of sleep and that helps the kid to be more active all the day long.

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