Bed Time Routine©

Charles Emmrys PhD


Bed time is the point in the day where children are the most relaxed and the most receptive to adults. The cares of the day are over and expectations are for the morning. For this reason, bed times are the best time for teaching closeness and personal communication skills.


  1. Determine when the bed time routine will start. It should be at a time when it is reasonable to expect that pre-bedtime chores and hygiene can be completed.
  2. Arrange it so that one parent can spend 15 minutes with the child one on one. Because we are teaching closeness skills, it is important that there be only the child and one adult each night. Children over 8 years old should have 20 minutes and Teens should have 30 minutes.
  3. If the start time is 7:30, make sure that you are sitting on the corner of the bed at exactly 7:30. If the child is not ready, the clock starts ticking and he/she must know that you will leave at 7:45 sharp.
  4. When the child is there you can read a story but it should never take more than 5 of the 15 minutes.
  5. After the story, the parent then chats with the child as a friend. The parent talks about themselves, the things that they have done and how they felt about it. The child is invited to do the same.
    • It is important that the parent talk about him/herself. They may talk about when they were young or about everyday things such as “I was at the store today and the cash lady was so funny”. The parent is modeling for the child what it is to talk about one’s day. Make sure to say how you felt as well. Talking about feelings is an important part of the program.
    • The child is then invited to talk about their day and the parent should help if and when needed. Try and get the child to mention feelings when they tell their story.
    • The parent must not talk about expectations, what went wrong or what they should not have done during the day. This is not a time to teach lessons but to develop friendship and closeness skills.
    • After the 15 minutes are over, the parent leaves and the child is expected to stay in bed and fall asleep or at least be quiet. If the child acts up after the one on one time, they lose half of the time the next night.
    • It is good to switch parents each night as much as possible.

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