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A Storytelling Routine to Help Kids Get Ready for Bed

Help kids get ready for bed without fussing thanks to this brilliant storytelling routine. Perfect for over-tired kids who are resisting sleep.

Help kids get ready for bed without fussing thanks to this brilliant storytelling routine. Perfect for over-tired kids who are resisting sleep. #bedtime #parenting #vbcforkid

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I wouldn’t say that any of my children are exactly fans of bedtime, but five-year-old Anna finds it especially despicable. This is particularly true when she is excessively tired, and desperately needs to sleep. Thankfully, my eleven-year-old came up with a brilliant bedtime approach that gets her ready for bed without complaint. It’s the perfect companion to this week’s Virtual Book Club for Kids pick, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney.

Use Storytelling to Help Kids Get Ready for Bed

Step 1: Create an Alter Ego

My eleven-year-old daughter Emma created Princess Joy one inspired evening. Things weren’t going well. We’d had the kids out late for some event that most likely involved way too much sugar. Bedtime typically works like clockwork in our house, with all four kids in bed by 7pm (they are allowed to read in bed until 8). Three out of four were doing just fine. But my over-tired then-four-year-old sat on the floor, screaming that she didn’t want to go to bed. Emma walked past Anna, picked up her toothbrush, and began the story: “Princess Joy loved making her teeth sparkly with toothpaste.”

The screams faded. Emma s-l-o-w-l-y added toothpaste to her toothbrush, adding in a few details about Princess Joy’s day. Soon Anna was transfixed. Glancing over her shoulder, Emma nonchalantly asked, “Oh, do you want to brush your teeth like Princess Joy?”

Anna jumped up, grabbed her toothbrush, and added her own toothpaste.

Step 2: Weave the Routine into the Story

As Anna finished brushing her teeth, Emma moved onto the next step in the story. Princess Joy put on her special pajamas, which were described as looking suspiciously like Anna’s own pajamas. Anna happily pulled on the matching pair.

Step 3: Settle in for the Night

Princess Joy grabbed her favorite book. Surprise! Anna had the same favorite book. Anna climbed right into bed at the exact same time as Princess Joy, and started to read her story. The entire transformation from screaming child to happy child settled into bed took maybe five minutes.

Why Storytelling Your Way to Bed Works

Kids don’t really enjoy screaming their way to bed. This behavior – so ucnomfortable for parents and children and bystander siblings – is the result of a child’s prefrontal cortex shutting. Children’s brains aren’t fully developed, and even adults are prone to difficult behavior when over-tired.

I wasn’t making any headway in getting my own youngest child to bed when my tween cleverly stepped in and solved the problem. I’ve worked hard to teach my kids storytelling, and Emma saw a brilliant application for this skill.

By creating an alter ego, Emma:

  • Captured Anna’s imagination.
  • Focused on something positive (a princess) instead of the overwhelming chore at hand (getting ready for bed).
  • Walked her sister through the steps to get ready for bed in a pressure-free environment.

Fun Activities for Llama Llama Red Pajama

Anna Dewdney’s  Llama Llama Red Pajama is this weeks’ Virtual Book Club for Kids pick. Checkout these activities from my co-hosts!

Help kids get ready for bed without fussing thanks to this brilliant storytelling routine. Perfect for over-tired kids who are resisting sleep.

What are your tips for helping kids get ready for bed? You can comment below, or on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

7 thoughts on “A Storytelling Routine to Help Kids Get Ready for Bed”

  1. That tween of yours is brilliant! And no doubt your work of storytelling has made an impact on her. Thank you so much for sharing your daughter’s creativity! I can’t wait to apply storytelling to my kids at bedtime.

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