Child Related Issues, The Importance Of Establishing A Child's Sleep Routine
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jane I Taylor MBACP MCS (Acc) PRCC
10th November, 2010
When it comes to getting children off to sleep our grandparents knew what they were doing. We do not often here tales of difficulty relating to sleep from our grandparents, it is a modern phenomenon. A few generations ago parents knew the value of sleep, routine and boundaries. If we get back to basics and follow some of their routines we too can enjoy the contentment of our children getting off to sleep at night.
Modern life for children is confusing, children have too much choice, we give them mixed messages and expect them to process the information in the same way as an adult mind. Children have to learn to process information, too much choice, expectiong them to reason too early causes them distress, they may become confused and insecure. If we use sound boundaries to help them to understand what is expected of them, it helps them to feel safe and secure.
Many of use remember being told about the importance of establishing a routine for our baby when we first become parents, this is where a sleep routine starts. The child can be programmed into recognising a winding down to sleep routine each day.
1. Have a regular bed time, so the child knows it is time to get ready for bed, from the age of approximately two, remind them ten minutes before. Try to avoid caffeine drinks, avoid excitment before bed, do not let the child sleep during the day( over the age of approx 2 years). This can be hard but the benefits of a child going to bed and sleeping all night are worth the effort.
2. Have a regular routine, time to put your toys away, time to have your bath, time for your story, time to settle down, time to go to sleep.
3. Start the child off from day one with a dark room, have thick curtains or even a double pair for the summer months. Never leave a light on, what they never have they never miss.
4. Never be tempted to give the option to stay up as a treat, it will only confuse the child.
5. Just before they settle down (ten minutes before their sleep time) check with them that they have, had a drink, been to the toilet, have their favourite toy, brushed their teeth, etc. This way they can not use these things to keep you there or stay up longer.
6. Never argue with the child, tell them once and remove yourself, even if they keep on. If you have to return to them or they come out of their room etc., do not talk to them, make eye contact or interact with them. Return them to their bed and remove yourself.
Once a routine is established and it may take up to a week, you and your child will be able to enjoy the benefits. It can be a battle of wills and your child can test you to your limits, but it is worth it.
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