If you're like most parents, you're all too familiar with this scenario: You put your kindergartner to bed at 8:30 at night, hugging and kissing him and wishing him sweet dreams. It's been a long day, but still the dinner dishes await, you have bills to pay, the dog needs to be walked and the cat fed, and you haven't had a spare moment to put your feet up. But instead of spending the rest of the evening catching up on your chores and clocking some precious time with your partner, you're in and out of your 5-year-old's room, cajoling him to sleep. He finally nods off — about three hours after he first went to bed.
Take heart: Bedtime can be rough for a kindergartner. On the one hand, he's learning to assert himself and his independence (hence the jack-in-the-box action on his bed). On the other hand, a kindergartner's days (and nights) are sometimes fraught with insecurities and fear. "Your 5-year-old needs your reassurance, and stalling at bedtime might allow him to squeeze just a bit more of it into his day," explains Jodi A. Mindell, associate professor of psychology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and the author of Sleeping Through the Night.