Regular routines improve kids’ behavior, success in school

Routines are important behavior therapy, not only for toddlers, but throughout the preteen and teenage years. Whether your child is typically developing or one with special needs, bedtime routine is especially helpful in preventing bedtime struggles. It also helps ensure that your child goes to sleep at a regular time each night, which increases the chances that she will have a great start to the next day of preschool.

One effective way to end a bedtime routine is with a scheduled book reading time. Set aside 20 to 30 minutes each night to pick out, read and discuss books with your child. Electronics should be off during this time, and, to create a calming effect, bedroom lighting should be only as bright as needed for reading.

Here are some tips for integrating book time into your child’s bedtime routine:

  • Make sure the book reading environment is calm and comfortable.
  • Ask your child to point out or tell you which pictures or words he enjoyed during the story.
  • Reinforce your child’s comments or questions during the story reading by delivering behavior-specific praise with enthusiasm (e.g., “I love the way you pointed out that you liked the yellow umbrella that Sally is holding on that page!”)
  • Ask your child questions from each page, such as, “Can you touch all the things that fly in this picture?” or “Point to all the orange things on this page.”
  • Research libraries close by that conduct book readings for children and schedule those into your week.
  • Make library time fun and exciting by allowing your child to pick out books in which he is interested.

Happy reading!

—by Ashley Kiser, M.S., BCBA, Director, Keystone Child Development Center

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