Ugh, bedtimes. This topic is a constant source of parental insecurity for me. Ever since I skipped the whole “cry it out” method, I’m convinced my child thinks I’m a chump. I put him to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. every night. Every night he talks to himself for roughly two hours. According to a new study, he’s going to be having some behavioral issues if we keep this up.
The research points to the fact that there may be more behavioral difficulties in children with irregular bedtimes. British researchers interviewed mothers when their kids were three, five and seven. They were questioned about how often the kids had a regular bedtime: always, usually, sometimes, or never. Then they were questioned about their child’s behavior:
Almost 20 percent of 3-year-olds had no regular bedtime, compared with 9.1 percent of 5-year-olds and 8.2 percent of 7-year-olds. After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were.
So, does the fact that I put him to bed at the same time every night qualify, even though he doesn’t fall asleep until he’s damn well good and ready? What the heck is bedtime? Is it when we put our kids down or when they actually fall asleep?
I’ve never been really good with schedules. I thought I could just raise my kid with the same easy-breezy approach I have to life. I’m realizing that it is really important for me to get better about scheduling. I’m not saying scheduling is necessary for everyone – but I have a very stubborn child. I don’t know if it’s just his personality, or if I have fostered it by not being strict enough about things like this.
Parenting is humbling me endlessly.