by Ilze van der Merwe-Alberts , Educational Psychologist and CEO of Bella Vida Group
Bedtime can be a very difficult time for many parents when the kids refuse to go to bed or stay in their beds. Many parents throw their hands up in the air and say “we just give in to their demands as long as we can have peace and quiet and get to have a restful evening as well, once the kids fall asleep”
Some useful information about children and sleep:
- Kids who regularly sleep more than 8 to 9 hours tend to have stronger immune systems.
- Kids who sleep less than 9 hours a night are more likely to be overweight as not getting enough sleep may throw off their metabolism in ways that make it easier to gain weight.
- Kids who sleep poorly often have behaviour problems and trouble concentrating.
- Most school-age kids need 10 or 11 hours of sleep each night
Tips for getting kids to bed and sleeping in their beds until the next morning
- Create a bed time routine, which is followed most of the days of the week.
- Create your own structure, eg: bath time, dinner, television watching for 30 minutes, teeth brushing and going to the toilet, story time in bed and 5-10 minutes of talking time with parent, goodnight kiss and parent leaves bedroom.
- Try to stick to the bedtime routine as often as possible to create the pattern and predictability.
- Be a consistent parent about bed time routine.
- Guard against activities before bed time that arouses a child’s brain activity’
- Read a bed time story or tell your own stories as this creates a warm fuzzy feeling for kids and help them to switch off, to enable them to fall asleep.
- Do not lie with your child to help your child to fall asleep otherwise your child will go into lighter sleep patterns somewhere during the night , realise you are not there and go in search of you.
- Encourage your child to stay in bed. Reassure them that you will check every 5 minutes. Do check in every 5 minutes.
- Give your child choices of what to do if they take some time to fall asleep.Let them choose to “read” their book, talk to their toy or choose to have one or two toys in bed. Any form of a choice gives a child the feeling of power and control.
- Have a night light on for your child.
- Close the curtains properly and close windows if the wind moves the curtains.
- Give your child a torch if your child needs to feel more in control of the dark.
- Take your child back to bed every time they walk over to your bed, to encourage self nurturance, the ability to self smooth and to grow in independence.
- Encourage and acknowledge good sleeping behaviour in your child. It is a gift for life!
- Persevere as this too will pass and good sleeping patterns will soon be the norm for the family.