How To Get Your Kids To Not Fight Bedtime, According To Esther Wojcicki

mbg Editorial Assistant By Abby Moore
mbg Editorial Assistant
Abby Moore is an Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Boy Asleep in His Bed

Image by Kelly Knox / Stocksy

Studies have found that parents who raise a child from infancy to 18 years old lose on average 645 hours of sleep compared to people without a child. But journalist and teacher Esther Wojcicki offered her one tip for getting children to fall asleep, without fighting bedtime.

The secret, Wojcicki said in the mindbodygreen podcast, is collaborative parenting. This means instead of telling your children what time to go to bed, you engage in a conversation with them about sleeping patterns.

You ask your child, "What time is appropriate for you to go to bed?" and provide some examples. These conversations can begin when children are 4 or 5 years old. You can also tell them the benefits so they understand why, and will actually want to go to sleep. 

"Little kids, your brain grows when you sleep, and you get smarter when you are sleeping," she suggested as a prompt. 

Why is this effective?

Children are used to being forced, according to Wojcicki, and that doesn't always work. "You want to talk to them about the reason why," she said. "The why is important." 

After they understand the value of sleep and feel some ownership in the process of bedtime, children can begin to self-regulate. This means that (hopefully) they'll start agreeing with parents when they're told it's time to go to bed. 

She and mbg co-CEO Colleen Wachob also discussed the many parenting books devoted to sleep training and toilet training, which are inextricably linked. And like toilet training, we all manage to learn.

At some point, children will understand—like going to the bathroom—that they need sleep in order to thrive. "I think we all need to just relax a bit," she said. "Our kids are really going to be just fine," she said. 

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