Parenting is like one big bag of important stuff. So many different aspects of what we do as parents and how we raise our kids are vital to their development, health, and happiness. It can be super stressful balancing it all, we know! We're big fans of focusing on the things we can manage and control for the most part. For example, we can worry about our kids getting sick and stress about whether or not they're going to make friends. But we can't really control that, you know? But we can control how we speak to them, how we show them love and affection and discipline.
We can control what they eat and what they watch. And we can, to an extent, control how much sleep they get. Anyone who's ever had a bad night's sleep or went to bed too late before a big day knows how important getting the right amount of sleep can be. For kids, it can be especially important. One of the things that sets kids up for a good night's sleep is a solid and consistent bedtime. Research shows that having a consistent bedtime can have a positive effect on a child's behavior. But a lot of parents aren't setting or sticking to bedtimes.
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We focus a lot on the bedtime routine, which is important. But the actual bedtime makes a huge difference, and sticking to it consistently can help set your child up for success during the day. According to a 2013 British study published in Pediatrics, delayed or irregular bedtimes can actually wreak havoc on a child's behavior. After tracking the sleep habits and daytime habits of kids between the ages of 3 and 5, researchers found that the less consistency there was at bedtime, the worse the child's daytime behavior got. Late bedtimes were especially problematic. Kids who went to bed after 9 p.m. displayed more behavioral problems than kids who had earlier bedtimes.
Researchers believe that the inconsistency in bedtimes can upset a child's regular 24-hour circadian patterns, which in turn can disrupt physical and mental function. If you notice your kid is struggling during the day, you might want to examine their bedtime and routine. And once you set a bedtime, try to stick to it! Consistency is key.