We all know that sleep is the foundation for kids to live happy and healthy lives. You will notice that children who sleep poorly at night are more likely to be moodier, find it hard to concentrate during school and are more likely to develop behavioural issues later in life. Learning to sleep better for themselves is an important part of their development. Here are 7 tips on how to help your children get a better night’s sleep.
1. Run around! Encourage your child to get moving. Walk them to and from school if you can, better still allow them to walk or cycle with friends. You are far more likely to get a sleepy child if you have a tired child. A nice walk or game of back yard cricket as a family can be a fun way of making sure they are tired before bed.
2. Routine, routine, routine: Stick to the same routine every night. Make sure you have your child eating dinner at the same time, winding down at the same time and going to bed at the same time. Doing this consistently will gradually adjust your child’s body clock and they will naturally want to sleep when bedtime comes around.
3. Deep Sleep Breathing: Teach your child how to relax and go to sleep. A good relaxation technique is to show them how to do “deep sleep breathing”. This wind down habit teaches them how to control their relaxation. A great skill for life which promotes relaxation, concentration, stress resilience and mood balance.
4. Explain what is happening: Children are naturally inquisitive and clever so giving them a basic understanding of the importance of sleep is a great idea. It’s something you can look up together.
5. Black out curtains: Black out curtains helps block off any car head lights, scary shadows or street lights that may be disruptive to your child’s sleep chemicals. Make sure the room is cool, dry and dark with a good condition mattress. Include a stuffed animal or nightlight in the bed to help them feel secure at bedtime. Be sure to turn off the night light once everyone in the house goes to sleep for the night.
6. Extended quiet time in bed: If you are struggling to get them to sleep on time due to the heat of summer or change in season then be patient and reasonable and teach them how to stay quiet in their beds.
7. The 30, 60, 90 second technique: Once you’ve read your child a story, or let them read, asked them about their day, exchanged kisses and turn off the main light, leave the room and wait behind the door. Count to 30 seconds before going back in to check up on them again. Repeat, this time counting to 60 seconds and again counting to 90 seconds. This helps them to feel safe and they will fall asleep knowing you are checking in on them.
Remember, have realistic expectations of your child's behaviour – make allowances for this and don’t ask too much of them. Are they doing too much? Are they in bed by an age appropriate time? Are you prioritising their sleep?
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