Your 4 3/4-year-old: Bedtime habits

Your 4 3/4-year-old: Bedtime habits

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Your 4-year-old now

What can you do when your best-laid plans for consistent bedtimes and happy sleep routines during the week go right out the window on the weekend? It's a common problem for either a lax weekend schedule or a vacation to turn a once-champion sleeper into a cranky bedtime refusnik come Monday.

The good news is that bad habits can be shed almost as quickly as they were developed. The key is to jump back into a consistent routine. If your child hasn't slept on his normal schedule for a couple of days in a row, try putting him to bed earlier than usual if he's tired. If the problem has been late-to-bed but also late-to-rise, return to his regular bedtime. Your child may be crabbier than usual in the morning, but don't let him oversleep. Your goal is to get him back on schedule.

That said, the occasional routine disruption is easier for a preschooler to handle than a schedule that completely falls apart every weekend. Your best bet, if at all possible, is to stick to roughly the same sleep times on weekends that you have during the week. Save the disruptions for truly special occasions or when it simply can't be avoided.

The same is true of sleep habits. If you don't want your child sleeping in your bed, for example, don't soften and allow it on weekends. It's best to not let the habit start in the first place. Obviously exceptions will crop up occasionally—say, if your child is sick or Grandma is visiting and using your preschooler's bed.

Your life now

It's not too early to consider whether your child will enter kindergarten this year or next. Your decision can depend on where your child's birthday falls in the year, the school's cutoff ages for enrollment, and his maturity level and physical size. Call the school to collect the deadlines you'll need to help you decide. Ask your child's preschool teacher to advise you as well. Keeping your child back when he's ready will lead to boredom and behavioral problems. Sending him too soon may set the stage for frustration and poor achievement.

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