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Parents' Page: Making Transition to the Bedtime

from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Same Time Every Night
Routine Every Night
Calm and Relaxing Activities
Be Firm About Limits
Finding comfort
Try Not To Give In


Almost all parents have trouble getting their children to bed at one time or another. Bedtime can be hard for children because going to bed means going away from the people they love. And, if they're having fun or interested in something, they don't like to stop and get ready for bed.

Here are some ways that parents have helped with the transition from evening time to bedtime.

Try to make bedtime the same time every night.

  • Bedtime can be easier if children know when to expect it each night.


  • If a very young child cries at bedtime, you might be able to help with a back rub or sit in the room a few minutes for some reassurance.


  • It's okay if your child doesn't fall asleep right away. Some children need a little time to settle in. Quietly reading a book or listening to music can help. Just let your child know it's important to be in bed at that time.

Try to have the same routine every night.

  • Doing the same things every night helps a child know what's coming next. That way, your child can be more ready for the time when you say "goodnight."


  • Be warm and comforting. And at the same time, be firm about the routine.


  • Here is what some families do every night:
    • take a bath
    • put on bedtime clothes
    • read a book or tell stories
    • sing softly
    • say goodnight to the chair, the window, the bed, and other objects in the room
    • say goodnight softly and leave the room

Do calm and relaxing things just before bedtime routines.

  • In some families, the adults like to read the newspaper or a book while the children play quietly nearby.


  • Turn the television off at the end of a program just before bedtime, so it won't be so hard for a child to leave the room.


  • If your family watches television in the evening, it can help to choose programs or videos that are calming, rather than those that might be exciting, violent, or scary.


  • In good weather, you may want to take a walk.

Be firm about the limits.

  • If your child comes out of the bedroom, kindly but firmly walk him or her back to the bedroom.


  • Calmly and firmly remind your child that the day is over, and that it's time to go back to bed.


  • Be firm about the limits: only two bedtime stories...only one or two trips to the bathroom.

Help your child know there are ways children can find comfort when they're trying to get to sleep.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Cuddle a stuffed animal.
  • Think about a nice wish coming true.
  • Keep a night light on in the room.
  • Leave the bedroom door open a little bit.

Try not to give in when your child wants to stay up later.

  • It may seem easier just to give in to get your child quiet, but letting your child stay up later one night will only make it harder to get back to the routine in the future.


  • If your child continues to cry at bedtime, try to be calm and firm.


  • Let him or her know you are nearby, but that it's bedtime. You could say, "It's the end of the day and time for you to go to sleep now."


  • It will probably take one or two weeks of repeating these steps every night for your child to manage better with bedtime.

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