There must a gremlin in our house, or a spirit, or a conjurer who turns my children into heckraisers (this is a family blog, but you get my meaning) around 7:15 p.m. each night. At the exact time they should be winding down and crashing from an exhausting day of playing, running, climbing, screaming, learning, and eating, they seem to get their second wind.

It’s as if a parent-hating imp from another dimension is pumping new life into them.

I would like to politely ask that imp to cease and desist.

Why does this happen? There are probably more than a few reasons. Kids want to wring every possible second of fun out of every day. That means dragging out every task like a kid who didn’t write his history report and is talking and talking and talking to stall for time.

Kids aren’t stupid, either. They know the nighttime drill, yet it still takes them FOREVER to brush their teeth, get their pajamas on, and settle down for bed. This further delays bedtime even though all of their malingering leads to raised voices, threats, and punishments from Mom and Dad. It can get ugly.

Despite all their actions, our kids still have the audacity to ask us to get them a toy to sleep with or ask us for extra books before bed. They might also say they’re still hungry or they need a drink before turning in. Their demands never end.

The bottom line is that it’s about power and control. They want to show that they have the power to control us and the more amped up and frustrated we get, the more that plays into their hands.

So, what can we do about it? I’ve spent years pondering that question.

1. Parents Have to React Calmly

No matter how exhausted we are and how short our fuse, we must not let our kids rile us up. That’s when we overreact and they gain the upper hand.

2. Stand Firm

After the third request for water or toys, the answer becomes an emphatic “no.” If your kids don’t like it, too bad. They’ll have to cry it out. By giving in again and again, they become immune to your threats and you lose the power. Your children will continue asking and begging you to get something for them or to let them stay up later because they know that you will eventually cave in.

3. Start the Bedtime Routine at a Reasonable Hour

And build a schedule that your children will learn to follow. If your kids know that bath time starts at 7:30 p.m. each night, followed by a quick TV show and a few books, then they will learn to respect that schedule and be guided by it.

4. Remember That This Won’t Last Forever

When our kids are young, they have a tendency to be very needy and demanding of our time and attention. That won’t last forever. In a few short years they might be teenagers who will create their own routines and have little time or interest in Mom and Dad. Spend these years cultivating a loving, healthy relationship with your kids, despite the bedtime struggles, because these years won’t last forever.