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Activities to Wear Out Children So They Will Sleep

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

It's late, your child is full of energy and you're worn out. It’s bedtime and, if he doesn't get to sleep soon, you won't be able to get your work done. You can employ various activities that will wear your child out so he will go to sleep and stay asleep. Using these activities can reduce your stress levels and the amount of conflict between you and your child.

Indoor Physical Activities

Physical activity can tire your child out so she is willing to go to sleep. Put on dance music or an exercise program and encourage her to get active. Provide objects she enjoys such as a special dance dress, a streamer on a stick, or ankle bells and finger cymbals. Playfully wrestle with your child, tickle her or play an active game of pass the hot potato or musical chairs. Move to slower, sedate activities 30 minutes before bedtime or she will be too stimulated to sleep, suggests author and family therapist Roger Allen in his book "Common Sense Discipline: What to Say and Do When Children Misbehave."

Outdoor Physical Activities

Try some outdoor activities. Let him jump on the trampoline. Go for long walks or bicycle rides together. Play a fast-paced game of tag or have a battle with water pistols. Encourage your child to romp with the dog or engage in yard work, such as raking leaves or pulling weeds. Ask your child to help clean the car or wash windows and other cleaning chores.

Bedtime Activities

A bedtime routine can help your child wind down enough to feel tired, sleepy and more inclined to escape into dreamland. Send her to take a warm bath or shower, if she is old enough to bathe alone, or bathe her if she is not. Snuggle with her as you read stories, watch a video or listen to music. Talk softly as you stroke her back or face and tell her how tired and sleepy she is getting. Sit with her in the dark so her eyes get heavy and cause her to fall asleep.

Emergency Measures

Rocking a baby or taking her on a ride in the car might work for babies who can’t seem to settle down for sleep, but it won't work as well for older children. If your little one won’t stay in bed and go to sleep, Allen suggests you have the child jog or walk around a table sofa for as many minutes as your child’s age in years. Set the timer and instruct your child to get moving. If he gets back up, add the number of minutes not completed with his age and reset the time, insisting that he complete the circuits. If you don’t have room for him to move around the furniture, he could jump on a mini trampoline, punch a punching bag or walk up and down the hall until the timer goes off.


  • Common Sense Discipline: What to Say and Do When Children Misbehave; Roger B. Allen, Ph.D.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

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