How to Deal with Children Who Have Different Bedtimes: 5 Steps
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Establish strict, age-appropriate bedtime routines.

For many households, bedtime is an experiment in terror, especially if your home is blessed with several children on very different bedtime routines. Your younger kids falsely assume that balloons, clowns and unlimited ice cream are enjoyed by all after they fall asleep. But giving everyone the same bedtime only leads to a very vocal display of disgust by the older kids. Handling multiple bedtimes doesn't have to leave you pulling out your hair. Instead, provide everyone with an age-appropriate routine, and stick to your guns when the inevitable whining ensues.


  1. 1
    Spend time together as a family before bedtime. Enjoy dinner together, take a walk through the park or play a rousing game of Chutes and Ladders. Once the designated family time is over, send the older kids to a separate area to read or do homework while you attend to your younger kids.
  2. 2
    Create a predictable bedtime routine for the little ones. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends implementing a "Four B's of Bedtime" system: bath, brushing, book and bed. Give your toddler or preschooler a soothing bath, stick a toothbrush in his hand (and wait for the inevitable whining), read him a favorite story and put him right to bed. Start the process one hour before bedtime, and make sure to give your child a big hug and kiss before tucking him in for the night.
  3. 3
    Maintain an air of quiet and boredom around the home. Once the younger kids are in bed, instruct the older kids to grab their homework, a snack and whatever else they need for the remainder of the evening. Older kids running around, talking and having what seems like a great time will only encourage little ones to leap out of bed and join in.
  4. 4
    Work out an age-appropriate bedtime for the older kids, and reward them for following the rules. For instance, push the older sibling’s bedtime back 30 minutes, and if they adhere to the schedule and rules -- which means staying in their bedrooms after the younger children are sleeping -- reward them with a new toy or extra television time on the weekend.
  5. 5
    Send any child -- no matter the age -- back to bed immediately if she's discovered wandering the halls. If the child is resistant, which seems to happen just after you've fallen asleep, gently guide her back to bed with a hug, kiss and reminder that it's bedtime and she needs to be a big kid and sleep in her own room.

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