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:)

  • 2
    Sounds like she's jealous of the baby, which would be normal. I'm curious, why do you feel guilty about sending her to bed saying she's hungry if she's already had her dinner and you know that she's just playing for time?
    – A E
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 10:20
  • 2
    My son often claims to be hungry right before bedtime. Most of this is confusing "tired" with "hungry" (partly because it's a vague sensation, partly because "tired" will lead to "bed"). He's only allowed boring foods -- saltines, rice cakes, unbuttered popcorn -- which are filling but uninteresting, and also gets them only if it's before a certain hour (i.e., if he's dawdled and it's 30 minutes past bedtime, food is not an option).
    – Acire
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 18:08

6 Answers 6


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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented May 28, 2014 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
    Commented May 28, 2014 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. Commented Oct 7, 2014 at 13:27
  • try calm app- it puts me to sleep in no time
    – somename
    Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 22:00

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.

  • +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
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 3:45
  • Agreed. If you can't change this, I suggest you seek counseling for yourself, to help you with parenting. Your daughter is simply doing whatever seems to work (with you) to not have to go to bed. I disagree with those saying that she has problems falling asleep. Sure, she will have the first two weeks because currently she's used to this sleeping pattern. Perhaps you can put your clocks forward 15 min. every day until at least she gets used to falling asleep at the right time. Then put the clocks back to normal and explain her that you did that; and have fight #2 while her rythm is already ok.
    – Carlo Wood
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:46

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.


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.

  • 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. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 13:47
  • It's 85% serious :-) I'd bet you two donuts that any child that you apply my technique on will be in deep sleep within 5 minutes. At that time, turn off the tv. Easy fix. Commented May 15, 2019 at 19:33

My seven-year old (boy) is the same --and I was the exact same myself as a kid. My biggest piece of advice would be to not do the second dinner. A full stomach makes it harder to sleep, and no child who gets three meals a day is starving.

For my son (and myself) plenty of exercise is a huge key to good sleep, preferably throughout the day, but right before bedtime if necessary.

On nights when nothing at all works, we just let him stay up (in his room), but he isn't allowed to interfere with our activities, and he doesn't get any special accommodations --no food, water, snacks, extra stories, sleeping in our room, etc. It may not solve the problem, but it keeps it from ruining our lives, and it means he isn't being "rewarded" for staying up. But that doesn't happen often (as long as he gets plenty of exercise).


I have a 7 year old who does exactly the same, she has sleep anxiety which means she does nit like to fall asleep on her own but once asleep she will stay asleep alnight so the most effective this I have tried so far is:

Tea is made early around 5pm, after clearing up I commit time to her between 6&7pm for play and interaction, the anxiety starts to kick in when she the play stops because she knows it is bedtime so we carry this on but I get her dressed for bed whilst playing so it's not made a big deal of. We then go down for cereal to fill her belly for sleep (nobody likes to go to bed on a hungry belly, sleep is a long time until we have food again!) She will happily have a wash or bath and clean her teeth and then we do story together. Then its sleep, cuddle, sleep mask(to block out the light as she hates the light) a cuddly toy and goodnight, I will potter around in and out of her room but theres nothing more she could want as it's all been covered. Maybe the odd mum I want another wee but that's fine let her go then straight back to bed, I continue pottering around so she knows I'm there and then she will go to sleep. Remind her that its grown ups time if needed and try to be really boring and quiet. The most important thing is the bug shiny sticker she gets to choose every morning and 7 days in a row gets her a prize (a gold star, £1 to spend something very small but a prize is a prize) good luck hope this helps

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