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Bedtime Routine

How to Make Bedtime Stories Part of Your Routine


Remember how much you loved listening to bedtime stories back when you were a kid—how you treasured the opportunity to snuggle up with your mom or dad, connecting over a great story? It was almost enough to make you look forward to bedtime. Almost.

Why Bedtime Stories Matter 
There’s no doubt about it. Humans are hard-wired to love stories. Stories help us make sense of our world and they give us the opportunity to work through powerful—even painful—emotions. (Remember how your heart broke a little when Charlotte died? Yeah. Me too.) Stories can also help a child to work through worries and frustrations, including anxiety about bedwetting. And they serve as relationship glue, helping a child to feel safe, secure, and loved as she makes the transition from daytime to dreamland. Is it any wonder that bedtime stories have been part of children’s bedtime routines for as long as there have been parents and kids? 
The Secrets of Great Bedtime Stories

Of course, it’s one thing to tell a bedtime story and it’s another thing to tell a really great bedtime story—a story that truly resonates with a child. If you’re wondering what kinds of bedtime stories children love, a group of UK researchers have the answer. Their survey of over 1000 British children revealed the ideal story length (just under nine minutes), the preferred cast of characters (a dragon, a princess, a wizard, and a fairy), and the perfect story structure (a rip-roaring adventure that wraps up with the proverbial happy ending). Another tactic that’s worked for generations? Tell your child stories drawn from real life – either yours or theirs. Our child will love hearing about that funny thing she said or that almost impossibly cute thing she did when she was really little, just as she’ll be fascinated to learn about the struggles you faced and challenges you overcame during your own growing up years. (Maybe you struggled with bedwetting, too?) 

Inspiration unlimited 

Not quite sure how to get started? The children’s librarian at your local library can be a great resource, helping you zero in on stories your child is sure to love. 

Prefer to go online? You’ll find a wealth of stories and storytelling resources there, too. For example, the Indianapolis Public Library has pulled together this list of over 100 bedtime story videos featuring much-loved children’s books like The Very Hungry CaterpillarOlivia, and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  

While online stories can be convenient, you should try to avoid screens at bedtime. The light emitted from a computer screen or electronic device may cue your child’s brain to stay awake instead of falling asleep! So you’ll want to enjoy them in audio-only mode or just use them as inspiration for your own “told by mom and dad” bedtime story. You could either retell the author’s story in your own words or create a brand new story of your own sparked by the original tale. (You get bonus marks for working your child into the story.) 

A good story can be an important part of your child’s bedtime routine, and there are a lot of reasons to make this a priority. So put down the phone and pick up your imagination – it could result in a lot of great stories and even better nights for you and your child.



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