Inda Schaenen knows that she is in the minority by choosing to follow a daily schedule that ends with a 7 o’clock bedtime for her three children ages 6, 9 and 11. But here’s why she does it:
It was the words of parenting expert Marc Weissbluth that changed my life… In his book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, he writes: "Sleep deficiency in childhood may harm neurological development, and the problems might not show up until later. I think it is possible that unhealthy sleep habits contribute to school related problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities. I also suspect that chronically tired children become chronically tired adults who suffer in ways we can’t measure: less resiliency, less ability to cope with life’s stress, less curiosity, less empathy, less playfulness. The message here is simple: Sleep is a powerful modifier of behavior, performance, and personality."
Schaenen also sites these 5 reasons for sticking to an early bedtime
1. Children flourish when they are unhurried.
2. Watching television is unnecessary.
3. Playing computer games - even so-called educational games, both handheld and desktop - is unnecessary.
4. Younger children do not need to busy themselves more than once a week after school with activities like karate, painting classes, modern jazz dancing, music lessons and organized athletics.
5. Parents are happiest when they know in advance what time their parenting day will end. Unconditional love for children is essential, but raising decent children also requires the consistent exercise of ingenuity, humor, intelligence, and self-discipline, all of which require an enormous amount of emotional and psychological stamina. In short, parents need sleep too.
What do you think? Join the debate and share your opinion.
Inda Schaenen is a freelance writer and full-time mother of three children. She and her family live in St. Louis, Missouri.