Many children hate the time to go to bed. Even if they are tired and their eyes are closing, such children do everything possible to resist their calls to go to sleep and want to stay awake. Many mums have to face this problem, and many mums already know that the best way to calm down their children and make them go to bed is having a pleasant and relaxing “bedtime ritual”. Before you turn off the light and make your child go to sleep, spend some time with him and be sure that nobody can interrupt you two. Show your sincere love and care to your kid, create a warm and friendly environment, and get involved in some interesting and creative activities. You can use some of the strategies, which can make the bedtime for your child wonderful and relaxing.
• “Our magic carpet”. Select a calm and silent place in your house, which will be good for sitting or laying down together with your child and telling stories. Place a soft carpet or a blanket on the floor, and call it “our flying carpet”. Every evening sit on it together with your child. Let him close his eyes and imagine himself traveling to a wonderland. Start your story by saying: “Today we are going to travel on our magic carpet to…”. Let your child continue your story and choose the places to go to. It can be Disneyland, Africa, Mars or a zoo. Let him fantasize, and help him to continue his story when it is necessary. Go on traveling until your child calmed down and started feeling sleepy.
• “My Bedtime Diary”. You will need a notebook or just some sheets of paper. Every evening before going to bed, sit down together with your child and think about the most interesting events of the day. Ask you child, what he liked the most, and write down what he says. Some children enjoy talking about the brightest events of the day, and some children need to be asked additional questions. Learn, what interesting things your child was doing. Was he upset with something? Did he learn something new? What would he like to be written down to his “Bedtime Diary”.
• “Let’s talk about animals”. Well, children like animals a lot, that is why you can have a conversation related to different animals. Try to ask your child a question: “What do you think, does this day look like any animal?” If your child responded positively on this idea, let him fantasize about animals. This ritual can also be very educative and you can tell your child about various animals and their behavior. For example, you can compare a long summer day with a turtle, and a busy day full of activity can be compared with a monkey, a lizard or a fox. Tell you child: “Today I worked like a tiger, and what animal were you today?”
• “The Adventures of My Favorite Toy”. Every child has favorite toys, and he always feels safer in bed when one of his toys is next to him. Every evening, make up a story about one of his toys. Let him choose an animal-toy or a doll and ask him to create a story about it. Stimulate his creativity and imagination by asking additional questions. Ask him about the friends of his toy, what it likes or what dreams his toy sees at night, and so on.
• “Playing with shadows”. Place a sheet of white paper on the wall and use a torch to create shadows in the dark room. Let your child move his fingers and hands between the torch and the wall, making various shadows on the wall. Together with him, try to take a guess, what do those shadows look like, and make up interesting stories about them.
In addition to traditional bedtime reading or massage, those are some alternative easy tactics to help your child calm down before going to sleep. Remember that every child, who has problems with going to bed and falling asleep, requires individual approach. Make your child go to bed at the same time every day, and use one of those evening rituals to relax him. Certainly, you both will enjoy the minutes spent together fantasizing and sharing your feelings. Let your child’s bedtime turn into wondertime, and let him benefit from calm and restful sleep every single night!
When your child can not sleep well at night, it usually becomes a problem for the whole family. Some children sleep more than 10-11 hours a day, but some do not like sleeping and stay awake till midnight. Therefore, an individual approach is needed for every child when creating his sleep strategy and developing good sleep habits. It is necessary to take into account such details as his age, type, health, situation in the family and many other factors. However, it is possible to name several universal rules for making the child’s sleep more comfortable and effective.
• Remember that sleep can hardly be commanded, that is why all you can do is create the right environment and stimulate your child’s bedtime mood.
• Make your child go to sleep and wake up in the morning at the same time every day.
• In the evening before going to bed, give him some time (from 10 to 30 minutes) to get ready for going to sleep or develop a sort of bedtime ritual for your child (reading a bedtime story or listening to some calm bedtime music).
• Create a proper sleep environment for your child.
• Control the hours your child spends in bed. Check out sleep patterns of your child and do not allow him to stay in bed for more hours than he actually needs for normal activities.
• Watch what your child is doing before going to sleep. Do not allow him to jump or run and try to divert his attention on doing something calm.
• Keeping the lights dim before going to bed also stimulates you child’s bedtime mood. At that, do not forget to use bright lights in the morning and during the day.
• Never use the television or other communication media while sleep training your child.
• Talk to your child before he falls asleep. You must be the last for your child to see before he falls asleep.
• Help your child to learn falling asleep himself. For this, help him to develop positive associations when falling asleep.
• Sending to bed must never be a punishment or threat for your child. Your child has to develop only positive feelings about going to bed and learn to enjoy the bedtime.
• Do not allow your child to watch movies or programs, as well as to play PC games that are not appropriate for his age.
• Do not allow your baby or toddler to fall asleep nestled in your arms with the bottle of meal.
• If your baby cries at night, come near and comfort him but do not pick him up. This way he will not develop a habit of crying in order to gain your full attention.
• If it is possible, do not let your child sleep in your bed. This habit is very hard to break and in the future it can bring to unwanted consequences.
• Do not give your child any drink or food (including, first of all, chocolate and carbonated drinks) with caffeine before he goes to sleep. Also, try to avoid giving him medicines that stimulate physical activity.
If your child slept very well all night, he will be active and full of joy all day long. But keep in mind that not every child who does not sleep long enough at night can feel discomfort or lack of sleep during the day. You must also remember that in many situations the child’s problems with sleep are not the fault of his parents. Sometimes these problems are serious, but sometimes they are not. If you child has continuous difficulties with sleep, talk to your pediatrician or sleep specialist.
It is impossible to underestimate the importance of good sleep for proper development and wellbeing of your child. Sometimes, sleeping is the only way for very active children to rest and recover after their daily physical activities. Besides, the hormones that stimulate growth of human organism are mostly produced during sleep. Finally, children’s imagination is very vivid, and seeing dreams helps children to process their thoughts and review daily events.
It is very important for parents to know how well their child sleeps at night or during the day. Fortunately, it is possible to understand this by looking at the child’s mood, activities and success in personal development. A tired child who has problems with sleep will sooner or later demonstrate changes in his behavior and learning abilities. Moreover, problems with sleep of your child always cause stresses for you and your family.
Many parents have no idea, how long their child must sleep. Specialists recommend the following amount of sleep for children based on their age:
• Infants (1-12 months) – not less than 16-14 hours a day
• Toddlers (12-24 months) – not less than 14-13 hours a day
• Toddlers (24-36 months) – not less than 13-12 hours a day
• Young children (3-5 years) – not less than 12-11 hours a day
• Children (6-10 years) – not less than 11-10 hours a day
• Teenagers (11-18 years) – not less than 9-8 hours a day
According to the information received from modern parents, their children usually sleep less that it is recommended in the table above. However, children mostly have no difficulties with sleeping all night long. That is why if your child can not fall asleep fast, cries, wakes up at night or has other difficulty connected with sleep, there is a probability that he has a serious sleep problem. There are some signs of possible sleep disorders:
• It takes a lot of time and efforts of yours to help your child fall asleep.
• You child repeatedly wakes up at night.
• Your child snores and breathes heavily all night.
• You child displays changes in behavior, mood, success in school, etc.
• You have lost your sleep because of you child’s problems with sleep.