A Good Night’s Rest Means Better Behaved Kids

Avery and Ensen wind down the day with a little bedtime reading and conversation about the things they enjoyed most today. Photo: Nathan Kam


Someone please tell me we’re not the only family in Hawaii who has trouble getting their kids to bed. Okay, thank you! I didn’t think so.

Despite having a daily “routine,” the reality is it’s not always easy getting our little monsters to bed. As parents, we know how important it is for our children to get a good night’s rest for proper development and growth, performance in school or simply because a well-rested child is likely to be better behaved. Even the CNN.com story titled “Kids who sleep more cope better” reconfirms what other parents, families and our pediatricians have been telling us for years.

It didn’t come as any surprise that the research in the story found that sleep deprivation in kids negatively impacted their creativity, judgment, motivation and attitude in the classroom. But, perhaps more significant, lack of sleep can affect a child’s relationship with teachers, peers and, ultimately, his or her success in school.

What can we do as parents to set our families up for the best possible success?

The CNN article advises children get between 10 and 11 hours of sleep, but what I appreciated was the final part of the story, which advises on taking action. It really hit home with Kelly and me and affirmed some of the measures we’ve taken in our own home to get Ensen and Avery to bed at a reasonable hour. Here’s our personal take on the tips:

  • The Wind Down. Our target time to get the kids to sleep is 8:30 p.m. Around 8, we start to slow things down around the house. Put the toys away, turn off the television, put electronic devices away, brush teeth and use the bathroom. The kids then select three to four books to read for 15 to 20 minutes before the lights go out.
  • Consistent Bed Times Seven Days a Week. This one is a bit tough for us, because we’re pretty active on the weekends. Ensen and Avery may be up until 10 p.m. if we’re having a family party at our place, but we allow them to sleep in to make up the time. If we’re simply enjoying a relaxing night at home with no distractions on the weekend, we’re usually pretty good about getting them to bed around 9, but we’re definitely a little more generous on Fridays and Saturdays with bed times.
  • Parents Must Lead by Example. Kelly and I love burning the midnight oil catching up with one another, on all the television shows crowding our DVR, and things around the house. But when 8 p.m. rolls around, we shut it all down ourselves. I abandon my work and laptop computer, Kelly stops whatever she’s doing and it’s all about getting the kids ready for bed. We enjoy quality time reading together and then it’s lights out. Once the kids hit the sack, we resume our night. It seems to be working better and better these days.

The hard truth is that it isn’t always going to be easy getting the kids to bed, but, as parents, we need to be steadfast in our approach and do what we can make it happen. Yes, there will be crying, tantrums and pleas of “Please, mommy and daddy ... ” but we must not give in. We must hold our ground, and talk with them about why sleep is important to Ninjago warriors and cute princesses. Well, that logic and reasoning has worked for us. ☺

Nathan Kam is a Honolulu public-relations executive, husband and a proud daddy of two incredible kids, Ensen (5) and Avery (2), who enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, blogging and golfing. You can reach him via emailTwitterFacebookLinkedIn or via his personal Kam Family Blog.