Sleep is very important in a child’s growth and development. Their body needs time to relax and heal, as does their mind, but when bedtime is a fight, sleep can be disrupted. Too little sleep can interfere with many aspects of your child’s day from poor learning and concentration to behavior problems and irritability. Doctors recommend that children between the ages of 3 and 12 get between 10 and 12 hours of sleep per night.
Why Children Fight Bedtime
There can be many reasons why your child throws a fit when it is time for bed or wakes up numerous times throughout the night.
- They may have trouble self-soothing if they are used to always being rocked to sleep or having their back rubbed. When this action stops, they cannot manage to fall asleep on their own.
- They may be fearful of being separated from you. When they are in their room alone, they cannot see or hear you and may fear that you are not close should they need you.
- They may be too stimulated in the evening and have trouble settling down when it is time for bed.
- Irregular routines such as going to bed early one night, staying up late another, or not having a bedtime story can throw them off and they are unsure what to expect. It can also interfere with how tired they feel.
Establishing a Bedtime Routine that Works
Having a routine is key when it comes to bedtime. It is predictable and lets your child know what to expect without any surprises.
- Forewarn your child 30-60 minutes beforehand that bedtime is approaching.
- Let them engage in quiet, relaxing activities such as reading books, putting together a puzzle, or drawing.
- Try to limit stimulating activities such as television, computer time or video games, which can make them, feel more wide-awake and energized.
- Let them share what is on their mind as they are getting ready for bed or you are tucking them in so these fears are not lingering overnight. Check for monsters and give them their favorite blanket or stuffed animal for security.
- Stick with the same routine each night such as putting on pajamas, then brushing teeth, then reading a story, then lights out.
Figure out what works for your child and what they need to sleep better at night and then stick with it. Children may argue, but ultimately they like routine because it is predictable. It may take some time for them to adjust but do not give up. If you are still having sleepless nights and daily fights, contact PediaPlex to find out how we can support you in helping your child get a better night’s rest.
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