Beating bedtime battles is something many parents struggle with. Parents go through bedtime with their child wondering “How many hours of sleep does she need?”, How do I get him to just go to sleep?”, “What do other parents do?” Other parents often wonder and yell, tuck their child in, read just one more story or fall asleep in the bed with the child.
Pediatricians note that children need 10-11 hours of sleep a night until they are about 10 years old. Adolescents need about 8-9 hours, but if they are going through a growth spurt or stresses with a heavy school schedule, they may need 1-2 more hours. Without the proper amount of sleep, focus and concentration can decrease, impacting grades and work performance and increasing irritability. The best way to help your child go to sleep is to establish a calm routine when they are young. Bedtime should be proceeded by a relaxing time which can include a warm bath, a short period of watching a favorite TV show or cartoon, a ritual of story, backrub and tuck in by mom or dad.
If your child is currently struggling with sleep. Do not let him get up and end up in your bed. Also, do not make a practice of falling asleep in her bed. In either case, your child will not learn their own good sleep practices. You can do several of the following:
- Allow a young child several small soft toys to play with in bed until they are tired and fall asleep.
- Keep bedtime the SAME TIME every school night and within 30-45 minutes later on weekends. Your body acclimates to sleep schedules.
- Take your child back to bed EVERY time she gets up in the middle of the night. You can rub her back for a few minutes but then go back to your own bed.
- Take cell phones away from teens. Many kids will spend all night on the phone or be woken briefly by the ping or vibration of incoming messages. This is a good practice for parents too!
Benjamin, at 8 was still sleeping in his parent’s room, although on a ‘bed’ made of blankets on the floor. He generally started the night in his own room, but he always ended up with mom and dad. With help, his parents began to move Ben’s blanket bed further out from their bed and into the hall. At that point, Ben decided he’d rather stay in bed and have mom or dad sit with him for 5 minutes. While his parents struggled to stay awake sitting by his bed at 3:00 a.m., it only lasted 2 ½ weeks. Finally Ben began to sleep through most nights. When he woke, he usually went to use the bathroom, sometimes would look into mom and dad’s room before he went back to his own bed and sleep. After struggling with sleep for 3 years, finally, everyone in the family could sleep.
Bedtimes don’t have to be a battle and there are more strategies to help improve what is known as ‘sleep hygiene’. Therapy can help with implementing effective sleeping routines for kids and parenting strategies for mom and dad.
Do you need a Willpower Workout to help you get through this school year? Need Help Beating Bedtime Battles? Call our intake specialists today and ask about our Willpower Workout Group and our other specialized therapy programs at 201-488-6678.