Why a Child Should Pick Their Own Bedtime — Within Reason

By Kara Reynolds | Nov 3, 2021

Bedtime is a big part of everybody’s day, whether you’re a child or a full-grown adult with little ones to take care of. Historically, it has always been the parents’ job to herd their children to bed whenever it feels appropriate to settle down for the night. However, there are actually a lot of different ways that you can go about the bedtime situation. Although it may sound a little bit crazy, there can actually be quite a few benefits to allowing your kids to participate in choosing their own bedtime. Even if it might feel a little strange at first, there are plenty of ways to find balance with the situation. Here are some of the reasons you may want to think about it.

Practicing Autonomy

Raising kids with autonomy is one of the best things you can do to bring up independent, free-thinking children who carry that attitude into adulthood. When you allow your children to participate in the bedtime decision — whether they simply give their opinions on the rules or they are given the power to actually set their own bedtimes — they can consider their own needs and can get a taste of decision making just like they would in the adult world. This can extend into other areas as well, not just bedtimes.

Developing Their Body Clock

When you become the responsible party for scheduling out every moment of your child’s life, they may get used to your schedule without much examination on their own part. Body awareness is an extremely important sense to develop, and one of the best ways to do that is to allow your children to learn about their own bodies for themselves. When you give your children a little bit of freedom to set their own bedtime, it will encourage them to listen to their own bodies and figure out which rhythm works right for them.

Building Routine

Even though setting a bedtime for your children or for your entire household might seem like the best way to build routine, you may actually find that allowing your children a bit of freedom to explore other options can help them develop a more inherent sense of routine that works better for them. Maybe your kids will discover that they are morning people or night people, and that might be different from the way that you tend to function. When your kids learn to function and build their own routines, they naturally develop a better relationship to themselves.

Setting Their Own Boundaries

This can be an especially important point for older children and teenagers. When you allow your kids to choose their own bedtime, you can help them learn to set boundaries both with their own time and with others around them. This means putting their health and rest above outside factors like school work and socialization, which can be a difficult lesson to learn otherwise. This can help prepare kids for college, and for adult life in general.

Learning Their Limits

This might not be an ideal option for everybody, but it’s certainly worth the mention. When you allow kids to have a little bit more freedom around their rules and regulations at home, it’s completely natural for them to test their limits. There is definitely the possibility that your kids will try and stay up as late as they can and make themselves tired the next morning. Even though this might not be healthy in the moment, I can teach them about their own limits and needs both physically and mentally. At the end of the day, teenagers need between eight and 10 hours of sleep each night, and when you allow them to participate a bit more in planning their own bedtimes, They might swing in the other direction at first so that they can learn what actually makes them feel better.

Setting a Good Example

No matter what kind of freedoms you afford your children, at the end of the day, it’s always a good idea to set a good example with your own behavior and put your own boundaries in place when you feel that you need to. It’s all about the balance of giving your children healthy amount of autonomy while still looking out for their best interests. Show them what it looks like to be a well rested and mature individual, and make sure that you guide them towards making the best decisions that they can for themselves.

Kids Picking Their Own Bedtimes

Although it might feel a little bit unorthodox at times, there are plenty of reasons why giving your children a little bit more freedom with their life choices can actually serve to benefit them in the long run. Of course, it’s important to make sure that they get the necessary rest that they need, but you can do so in a variety of ways.

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