How To Create A Sleep Routine That Sticks With Your Child
When you’re sleep-deprived, it’s difficult to have a productive and energy-filled day. You may be irritable, have trouble staying awake, and find easy tasks hard to perform. This is especially true when it comes to children, who are still developing mentally, emotionally, and physically. To ensure that your children are getting the sleep they need, it’s important to have a bedtime routine that everyone in the household can stick to.
The Child’s Role
Young children don’t have much control over their lives. They are constantly told what to eat, how to behave, or when to bathe. However, if you involve your children in developing a nighttime routine that helps get them to sleep, they’re more likely to want to follow it.
As a parent, you should determine how much sleep your children should get every night. But, together, you and your children can agree on a set bedtime to reach that goal. For very young children, you may want to use a clock as a visual aid to show them their bedtime. Feel free to talk about bedtime during the day as an additional reminder of your expectations.
Give your children power over the less important decisions. Let them choose which pajamas they want to wear to bed or the snack they eat before bed. The added sense of control over their own actions will help them accept as a ritual, the rest of their bedtime routine.
The Family’s Role
Some children may find it difficult to slow down at the end of the day. When their days are packed with homework, after school activities, and sports, kids can be overstimulated and stressed. Give your children a chance to have some quiet time before going to sleep. This may involve reading a favorite book, listening to some soothing music, or chatting about their day while snuggled up in bed. Your children will appreciate the time to relax their bodies and unwind their brains. In addition, if your children’s routine includes something enjoyable at the end of the day, they are more likely to want to stick with it.
Try to make your children’s bedroom an inviting environment. Your children should be surrounded by items that provide comfort and make them want to get in bed. Obviously, purchasing a comfortable mattress will make a big difference. If your child is sleeping on an old, lumpy mattress it may be time for a replacement. A warm quilt from a grandmother, a special teddy bear, or a small nightlight can make a bedroom more welcoming and provide a sense of security. Make sure to remove any toys or books that can be distracting for younger children.
You may want to limit the amount of screen time your children have before bed. Studies show that the light emitted from televisions, computers, and cell phones can be disruptive to a person’s ability to fall asleep. Because the brains of children are still developing, the side effects of sleep deprivation are especially dangerous. If children know their devices are prohibited after a set time every night, they know what to expect. Be a role model by turning off your phone or laptop and reading with your children.
You should be firm about bedtime routines even on the weekends. Children may show resistance but will appreciate the structure when they wake rested.