5 Parenting Tips for Your Child's Best Night Sleep

5 Parenting Tips for Your Child’s Best Night Sleep

Some sleep problems are normal throughout most of childhood, often after significant life changes. These problems often resolve themselves within a few weeks; however, sleep problems that persist beyond that can cause a variety of problems including decreased concentration, increased behavioral problems during the day, not to mention lots of struggles with parents over bedtime and sleep.

Here are 5 tips to help your child go to bed and fall asleep smoothly with minimal arguing:


1) Schedule bedtime based on when your child tends to fall asleep

If your child is not tired, they are not going to fall asleep!

Laying in bed when you are not tired is very boring and as a result kids are more likely to engage in exasperating stall tactics such as refusing bedtime and making multiple requests for additional stories, extra kisses, another drink of water, etc.

If bed time is 8pm, but your child typically does not fall asleep until 9pm, temporarily move bed time to 9pm. I realize this may not be desirable, howeverit will be much easier to get your child to go to bed and fall asleep if they are good and tired when they get in bed.

If the idea of a later bedtime doesn’t work for you, consider quiet time in their room prior to actual bedtime when they can do anything they want in their room as long as it’s quiet.

Once they are going to bed and falling asleep easily, you can start backing up the bed time in 15 minute increments until they are back at a reasonable bedtime again.

2) Keep TO a set wake-up schedule

This is particularly important if you are implementing a later bed time. The longer your child is awake the more pressure there is biologically to fall asleep at night. As a result, if you let your child sleep-in to “make up for” a hard night, it is going to be harder for your child to fall asleep at the desired bed time the following night.

Although waking them up at the regular time after a hard night might make for a crankier child during the day, if you stick to this, within a few days they will be sleeping better at night and feeling better during the day.

3) Eliminate Sleep Aides

Some children become dependent on certain things or environments in order to fall asleep. Some examples of sleep aids include having to have a certain story read to them, rubbing their back in a certain way, or singing a particular song. Although these kinds of sleep aids can be helpful, they can also be problematic if the child begins to become dependent on them to fall asleep. If this starts to happen, then any disruption in the bedtime routine can make it very hard for them to fall asleep. As a result, you may want to gradually wean them off these aids and find things they can do independently of you to help themselves fall asleep on their own. These might include a back scratcher they can use on their own or a CD of music that helps them relax that they can turn on themselves.

4) Use rewards

  • Acknowledgment/reward is often the best and quickest way to increase a desired behavior in your child.
  • Create rewards for whatever sleep behaviors you are targeting:
  • Staying in own bed all night
  • Going to bed when told
  • Adhering to bedtime routine (i.e. not asking for extra story, water, kisses, etc.)
  • Falling asleep on own in bed
  • Use small rewards that can be given first thing in the next morning.
  • Special breakfast
  • Extra play time before school
  • Choose the radio station in the car on the way to school
  • For older kids, you can also use a point system in which they earn points towards a larger reward at the end of the week.

5) Be Consistent

Change is not going to happen overnight, and it will get harder before it gets easier. It is best to create a plan and stick with it for at least 3-4 nights before deciding if you need to make any changes to the plan. Be prepared to have a couple bad nights before the good ones start. As a result, implement your plan during a time when you are willing to live with a few sleepless nights.

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