Kids really don’t know how lucky they are. They are fed, cleaned up after, entertained and encouraged to sleep as much as possible. And they don’t even appreciate it! Ugh! ANYWAY…..Creating a sleep routine doesn’t have to be the thing of nightmares. Let’s get that kiddo of yours on a healthier sleep schedule.
Why is it so difficult to get your kid to
A) go to bed when you ask
B) sleep in their own bed
C) stay in their own bed
Good question. Sleep is a vulnerable time for kids. They might be anxious about being on their own because they can’t see something coming. They could have major FOMO and hate the idea of missing something. Or maybe they are unable to fall into a healthy sleep schedule due to environmental factors. Whatever the case, this is a problem that is best tackled early on. Sleep hygiene is crucial to healthy development and success in being able to complete their tasks at home and school. If you’re curious, here is the recommended amount of sleep they should be getting each night. Here are some tips for helping your child develop healthy sleeping habits.
~ If you are concerned about your child’s sleep habits, your first stop is the doctor. Make sure there is not a medical or developmental issue occurring. Keep track of how many hours your child is getting, what their diet consists of and whether there are other physical symptoms or pains happening.
~ Lots of kiddos have sensory things going on that really hit full force when it’s time to sleep. If your child is a wriggler, they may need help restricting movement to calm down enough to sleep. This can be done through being wrapped (swaddling) or, as long as they are of a safe sleep age, they may do well to be surrounded by stuffed animals or pillows to feel comforted by being in a contained space. Weighted blankets may also help, but check with your doctor first.
~ I know I might lose some of you here because co-sleeping is a widely debated topic but to be super blunt, I am not in favor of co-sleeping. Any risks to your child’s physical safety aside, I really believe that children need to develop self regulation and soothing skills and a major way to accomplish this is by sleeping on they own. The truth is, they can sleep on their own-they may not want to-but they can. It’s better for them. It’s better for you.
~ Routines are like the glue that hold your child’s world together. Create it and stick to it as much as possible. That way, everyone knows what to expect. Bath time, story time, bedtime. It’s not a negotiation. They get a certain amount of books. There is a “potty check” before bed. There is not an endless supply of drinks. If naps become an issue around preschool age in your home, your child can tolerate “quiet time” in their room where they read or play quietly for a specific amount of time, however, this is still a devoted time to “rest” if they need it because it is good for them.
~ If your child is fearful, try the “dimming” technique. This is literally in reference to a dimmer switch on a light. Start with the highest intensity and lower that switch over time. If it’s you that they are seeking, start with being in their bed as they fall asleep, then move to the floor, then the door, then outside of the door. Tell them where you will be, but that it is time to sleep.
~ Last, but certainly not least, recognize that if you are anxious over bedtime, your child will be anxious over bedtime. Take good care of yourself to prepare for this. Being frazzled or becoming frustrated is totally normal, but it’s going to delay progress. Have help, have a plan, have a reward waiting for you once the bedtime routine is complete to keep yourself together and motivated. If today didn’t go awesome, tomorrow is a new day! Best wishes for sweet dreams for you and your kiddo.