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Hi Ali,

How can I convince my tween that she needs to go to bed earlier? I mean, she gets up between 5:30 and 6:00 every morning, at least she sets her alarm for those times, but is too tired to get up. She fights me every night, but she clearly needs more than she’s getting. Any advice?

Thanks,

Heather

Hi Heather!

What time IS she going to bed? A tween is anywhere between eight and twelve years old. Is she on the low end of tween, or the older end? I’m not a pediatrician, so I looked up the recommended amount of sleep for that age group. According to the National Sleep Foundation (www.sleepfoundation.org), the recommended amount of sleep for that age group is 9-11 hours. She might be okay with a little less, like seven to eight hours. But less than seven is not recommended. Some consequences of getting less than seven hours of sleep are inability to concentrate and solve problems. Some tweens may have trouble remembering important information like names, numbers, their homework, or that they had plans to do something with a friend. You might warn her that lack of sleep may also make her more prone to pimples. All that being said, you can’t force her to fall asleep. But you can instill a ritual each night that settles and regulates her body. Reading (or doing something calm and quiet) for 20 minutes before she turns off the light will help relax her. I would also recommend sticking to a regular bedtime as much as possible. Obviously there will be occasional extenuating circumstances, but for the most part, have a pretty strict bedtime. Here’s a sample routine:

Dinner – 6:00 PM

Shower – 7:00 PM

Reading – 8:10 PM

Lights out – 8:30 PM

In this sample routine, be all done with teeth, picking out clothes for school, making lunch, and using the toilet by 8:10 and she can read (IN BED) until 8:30 PM when lights are then turned off. That should give her a solid eight + hours of sleep, even if it takes a little while for her to fall asleep. Feel free to adjust to make it work for your family. Keep in mind that it is normal to take around 15 minutes to fall asleep. If she needs more than that, she might be overstimulated or overtired and may need to start the quite-down routine earlier. On the other hand, if she is well-rested, she might be ready for a later bedtime. If she still fights you, then have a creative consequence. For every minute she is late to bed, she owes you that amount of time in chores. Or she loses that amount of time in screen time. Hopefully that helps and you can all get a little extra sleep once you get used to the new routine.

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Author: Ali Dubin, MA, CPC

Ali Dubin, M.A., CPC is a psychospiritual, humanistic, intuitive, practical counselor and life coach working with individuals, couples, and families in southern California or by video all over the world. She lectures on love, self-love, giving and receiving love, and on love languages. Ali has worked with LGBTQ families for more than 25 years. She is also a professional freelance portrait photographer, a Second City-trained improviser, proficient in American Sign Language, and best of all, a mom to two daughters. She is currently completing her doctorate in Psychology-Marriage and Family Therapy. https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/277656 View all posts by Ali Dubin, MA, CPC

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