By Julia Gorham
Thoughts about sleep
* The amount of sleep each child needs varies for children just like adults, but an average would be 11 – 14 hours for the preschool age group. This would include the number of hours a child sleeps during nighttime and naptime.
* Think about how many hours of sleep your child gets and also look for signs in your child that maybe they are not getting enough sleep such as: you have to wake them up in the morning; they fall asleep in the car or at odd times, or any of the characteristics discussed at the beginning of this article.
* Also, think about what time your child goes to bed at night – new research supports the importance of sleep in the earlier hours of the evening during which major brain development occurs.
1. Establish structure and routine. Why is it important?
* The sameness provides a sense of safety and security for the child.
* The sameness allows them to know what to expect and what is expected of them.
* The sameness reduces the need to discuss, negotiate, beg, whine and battle – they won’t even try once they know the rules.
* Structure and routine establishes parents as having authority in family and increases compliance with “rules” of the family – you are teaching them to follow rules
2. Schedule eating and sleeping times consistently
* It regulates their bodies and “sets their clocks” for when to eat and sleep.
* Hunger and fatigue are major contributors to unwanted behaviour.
* Sleep and wake times should be the same every day to regulate their sleep cycles.
3. Implementing a bedtime routine
* Create a “bedtime routine” (about 30 minutes) this should include the same steps every day in the same order.
4. Routine ideas
*Limit T.V (T.V. does not “relax” children as many parents think – it stimulates their brain)
*Do not let them decide when they are tired, when they are ready for bed – have a set bedtime and stick to it!
* Do not let them decide where to sleep (for example, sometimes the couch, sometimes your bed, sometimes their bed)
* Watch your child’s intake of sugar and caffeine (in general, but especially near bedtime)
* No roughhousing before bed.
* Rocking, feeding and/or lying down with your child is not recommended otherwise these things/or you will become required for them to go to sleep
* Instead, encourage your child to use a “transitional object” (for example, a stuffed animal or a blanket), which will help comfort them and relax them
* Make sure your daily schedule includes plenty of physical exercise during the day.
* Turn the lights down low; close the curtains (in the morning open the curtains and make sure your child gets plenty of exposure to natural sunlight)
* Create a calm, quiet, and positive atmosphere to implement your bedtime routine.
* End your child’s day with positive parent-child interactions and physical affection.