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First, determine an appropriate time based on the child's sleep requirements and the parents needs for some time without children. Once this time is established, parents need to develop a bedtime ritual for their child that runs a half hour or so. This ritual helps make the transition from day to night and associates bedtime with something routine and good. Fixed bedtime rituals include taking a bath, changing into pajamas, brushing the teeth, reading a story, doing a puzzle, or just talking about their day. Most children feel that bedtime is their best time to talk to their parents, and a conversation with your youngster is always worthwhile. Tussling, tickling, or other stimulation horse play needs to be avoided at this time. When possible, most of the bedtime ritual should take place in the child's bedroom so that when the ritual is over the parent leaves the bedroom instead of the child leaving the family room. Both parents should take turns with this special time and never cancel the ritual as punishment for misbehavior earlier in the day.
* Source: Bruce A. Epstein, M.D., All Children's Hospital