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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent asks:
Q:

What do you do with a kid who wants to stay up all night reading?!?

My son (7) has just recently started reading to himself at night after we finish reading stories to him and his younger brother and tuck them in.

At first it was just a few minutes after "bed time" but over the summer it's evolved into LONG stretches of time and we're having a harder and harder time getting him to stop reading and go to sleep! We finish our bed time routine at about 8:00 and it's often well after nine before he actually goes to sleep. Every time we tell him it's time for lights out he says something like "I'm at such an exciting part! I can't stop now!"

I know in many ways this is a great problem to have and I obviously don't want to do anything to squelch this new passion of his. But as the new school year approaches, I'm also worried about him getting a good night's sleep!

My husband thinks we should just pretend we don't know and let him burn the midnight oil for as long as he wants to. I feel like that's going to hurt him in other ways.

What do you think?

Thanks!



In Topics: Back to school, Helping my child with reading, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Aug 30, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

You're right! This is one of the "better" problems to be faced with. It's so wonderful that your son has taken to reading........and at such a young age. Both you and your husband have good arguments. You don't want to deter your son from delving into his new found hobby, but as his parents, you are also responsible for ensuring that he wakes up on time and makes it through the next school day.

The good news is that your son can have the best of both worlds. Give him a certain time each night that he needs to be in bed with the lights out. If he chooses to read for three hours before his bedtime and fore go playing video games, or playing outside, then that's his choice, but make sure he knows that bedtime will not be extended just because he's at an exciting part in the chapter. It's easy for kids to get really excited about something new and not even realize the correlation between their increased crabbiness, or sleepiness because they are spending way too much time on their "new" hobby. He needs to keep to a regular sleep schedule, especially at his age.

During the weekend and on holidays it's ok to let him stay up and read as late as he wants. Eventually he'll wear himself out and fall asleep on his own, so let him practice a bit of self governance. He may even begin to notice that he's way more tired on the weekends because he's staying up so late and begin to put the books down a little earlier on his own.

Whatever you do.........keep reinforcing to him that reading is great, but explain to him that he needs to balance it with getting enough sleep for school. Be sure to give him positive praise when he follows the "lights out" rule, and be prepared to give him consequences for those times that he doesn't.

Happy reading!

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ginaa
Aug 14, 2009
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Best Answer!

what's this?
from a fellow member
You're right, this is a dream problem to have! Having said that I can totally understand why you are concerned about the effect on his health and ability to concentrate in school. I think it might a good idea to leave it alone for a few nights, until the fatigue starts to catch up with him. He will be more receptive to a talk about "reading time" when he's starting to feel the effects of the lost sleep. Although it's a great new activity he's found, you will still need to set some boundaries on how much time he can spend on it. Just bide your time a little and wait till you see him yawning or rubbing his eyes!

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Additional Answers (5)

bob
bob , Parent writes:
My opinion aligns with your husband's.  My wife did this as a child...reading with a flashlight under the covers...with no deleterious side effects, and recalls it fondly. Your child's bedtime is early enough that there is, in my opinion, a decent buffer.

There is an argument to be made that reading in bed can be harmful if the child has trouble falling asleep, the case being made that sleeping should be the only "activity" associated with the bed in the child's mind.  But I think this applies mostly to cases of insomnia.

An idea to consider is starting the bedtime process earlier, with some "sit up reading" time before storytime rather than "lie down reading" after storytime.
> 60 days ago

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shalaunda
shalaunda writes:
My opinion is that the best thing to do and help your child is to let them know that you are proud of them and glad that they love to read but that you need to find a time for reading.  In everything we do in life we have to prioritize and set time constraints.  This is part of building character and discipline skills.  If you don't start this now you may have problems later teaching him/her how to manage time.  Hope this helps.
> 60 days ago

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Brazil
Brazil writes:
hay kat_eden,

1)what you can do is make him go to bed earlier that will let him be to sleep by 8:00 cuz it look like he reads for 1 hour. that is one thing you can do.


2) you can give him a time that he has to stop reading and like put up a time sheet it will help out a lot.


3) you can only put reading time in the morning and no reading at night at all and make that very understanding to him that might work to.
> 60 days ago

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Mel4Him
Mel4Him , Parent writes:
I really don't think staying up to read past 9:00pm is much of an issue. My son is 7 1/2 and he doesn't even go to bed until 9:00pm-9:30pm. I guess it really depends on what time your son needs to be in school. 1st bell for my son is 8:45am. So even with a 9:30pm bedtime he still has enough time to sleep for 10 hrs before getting up (7:30am).
> 60 days ago

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dzugnoni
dzugnoni writes:
I'd let him read. He'll figure it out at some point.
> 60 days ago

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