17 May 2013

Tips for establishing an effective bedtime routine for your children

I am noticing a trend with some of the parents I am seeing in my office. A lot of them report that the day starts well with their children, but by the end of the day there is frequent arguing, pushing against limits, and they (the parents) are exhausted and want nothing more than to have their child go to sleep. It would also be fair to note that the children are exhausted by the end of day too, so their tolerance level is running low as well.
Are you one of those parents having a difficult time getting your child to sleep? Here are some ideas that may help you get them to sleep, so that you can have a break and get the rest mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually that you need.
  • It is really important to have a familiar routine around bedtime; so that a child knows what to expect and what is expected of them at this time. Try visitinghttp://keltymentalhealth.ca/healthy-living/bedtime-routine and create a bedtime routine chart, or board game, so that your children can follow along with the expected routine.
  • If your child is having difficulty physically resting, try getting them to take a hot shower for as long as possible to help relax and loosen their body, and then have them jump right into bed, all nice and warm.
  • Have a snack and a drink 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Anytime afterward may trigger the body into thinking it still needs to be awake.
  • Turn off electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. Looking at a TV screen, smartphone, or tablet simulates sunshine into the eyes, and the brain processes that light as daylight, therefore keeping the body awake.
  • Read stories, or tell stories to your children.
  • Leave soft, instrumental music playing in the room.
  • Massage, tickle or scratch. Each child is unique and different. Some will like their feet rubbed, others like a back scratch, and some like arm tickles. Pay attention to your child’s needs.
  • Have a rocking chair. It can be a great way to calm, sooth, and re-balance your child.
  • Be cognizant of age and developmentally appropriate routines for your child.
  • Don’t pressure yourself or your child that they can only fall asleep on their own in their bedroom. While this is optimal and desired, you may just have to give a cuddle, be with them, or let them sleep in your bed until they are asleep and then move them.
  • Talk to other parents. Asking your parents what they did to help get you to sleep and your siblings, is a great resource. Talking to other parents may help validate that you are not the only one struggling with this, and together you may come up with ideas.

But most importantly, love your child and be flexible. You will find your niche soon enough. But beware they may suddenly grow and develop and may have to start all over again!