If your child has trouble falling asleep at night, Rabbi Shmuley says it's important to not take the situation lightly. For parents, ignoring the issue may cause serious consequences, including problems in your marriage, a diminished quality of life and a decrease in your ability to discipline your child. Your child will lack structure and order, be cranky and agitated and perform poorly in school.
Rabbi Shmuley offers these tips to help your child go to bed:
- Enforce a bedtime and stick with it.
- Sit with them, read a book, say prayers, give them a kiss—whatever you prefer, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Turn out the lights.
- Tell them to lie in bed awake if they cannot fall asleep. Or, tell them that they can read in bed for half an hour, just for tonight. Then they must turn the lights off.
- If they run out of their beds, bring them back. "Repeat as necessary," Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Sit at their beds with them until they fall asleep if it gets out of control. "The drawback to this is that they become dependent on it, so do it only for a few nights until they get the message," he says.
- Punish them if they continue to get out of their beds. Rabbi Shmuley says to speak sternly and let them know that you're not joking around.
- Don't worry if they cry. "They are testing you in a game of will, and you must show them that you are the parent and unbendable," Rabbi Shmuley says. "If you stick with your guns, guaranteed, after a few nights, your child will begin to sleep on their own, and the battle will be won."
"Enforcing a proper bedtime is one of the most important parenting responsibilities. Don't bend in the face of an out-of-control child who cries and screams. Put them back in bed 20 times if you have to, until they get the message that you are the parent and they will follow your orders. It may sound heartless, but responsible parenting is the most loving thing around."