Bedtime Routines and Fears

A young child is in bed and is covering her face with her hands, as if not wanting to see something.
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Most three- and four-year-olds will sleep about twelve hours each night. A daytime nap may continue to be part of your child's routine, but don't be surprised when it is phased out during the next several months.

Remember that bedtime should be early because your child needs the sleep and you need time with other children, your spouse, or yourself. During the middle of summer, this can be a challenge. The sun may still be shining, and all sorts of activity may still be going on outside at what is normally bedtime.

You will need to decide how much to bend your routines to match the seasons, or perhaps invest in heavy window shades if you need to darken your child's room at this time of year. You may also need to exercise sensible flexibility to accommodate family work schedules.


The activities that surround getting tucked in should become a familiar and quieting routine. At this age, bedtime can be a delightful, enlightening experience. You can introduce your child to some wonderful stories, including books with several chapters that can create eager anticipation for the next night's installment. Your child's desire to keep the lights on and you in the room as long as possible will usually cause her to be remarkably transparent and receptive.

Expect to hear some of her private thoughts ("I think I know what Buster is saying when he barks . . .") or to tackle some riddles of the universe ("Where is heaven?"). Without being manipulated too much, allow enough slack in your day so you can relax during these wide-eyed sessions.

You will probably have many more opportunities at bedtime to talk about God and the values you care about than during family devotions or even at church, Sunday school, or other formal religious teaching sessions.

Adapted from the Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 1999, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Bed-Wetting

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