Healthy Kids    

8 tips for kids’ sleep issues + making bedtime routines

Child psychologist offers help for parents

8 tips for kids’ sleep issues and making bedtime routines

Kids’ sleep issues can be a common challenge for children of all ages and backgrounds. Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep, fears around bedtime, or disrupted sleep patterns, finding effective solutions is crucial for both the child’s well-being and the sanity of parents. 

Here, we’ll explore some valuable tips shared by child psychologist Dr. Diana Barrett to help address sleep issues and establish healthy bedtime routines for your child.

Kids’ sleep issues and bedtime routine tips

1. Investigate the underlying causes

The first step in addressing sleep issues is to identify what might be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep. 

Engage in open communication with your child to understand their concerns and fears. Some children may express fears of monsters under the bed, while others may struggle to calm their thoughts.

By identifying the root causes, you can better plan strategies to address them effectively.

2. Teach coping strategies

Introduce your child to various coping strategies that can assist with falling asleep and managing bedtime anxieties. 

Deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques can help promote tranquility. For older children, consider reframing negative thoughts and worries about the upcoming day into more realistic and manageable perspectives. 

Additionally, there are numerous apps available, such as Calm and Headspace, that offer guided meditation, breathing exercises, and soothing bedtime stories.

3. Create a sleep-friendly environment

Establishing a calm and inviting sleep environment is crucial for promoting healthy sleep habits. 

Involve your child in creating their sleep space, making the process engaging and enjoyable. Consider using night lights, projection stars, sensory items, weighted blankets, or “Worry Eaters” (stuffed animals with a zippered mouth to “eat” worries). Explore heated pillows with soothing scents or sound machines to enhance relaxation.

4. Establish a consistent routine

Develop a consistent bedtime routine and stick to it, even on weekends. 

Visual aids, such as picture exchange communication system (PECS) cards, can help children understand and follow the routine. The routine may include activities like brushing teeth, laying out clothes for the next day, reading, praying, or engaging in a question-and-answer session. 

Consistency provides a sense of predictability and security, helping children prepare mentally and physically for sleep.

READ MORE: What to do if technology is affecting your kids’ sleep

5. Minimize caffeine and blue light exposure

Limit your child’s caffeine intake, especially close to bedtime, as it can interfere with falling asleep. 

Additionally, reduce exposure to blue light from electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, before bedtime. Consider adjusting device settings or implementing screen-time restrictions to reduce the impact of blue light on sleep.

6. Individualize strategies

Each child is unique, with different needs and preferences. Customize the sleep strategies and routines to suit your child’s specific requirements. 

What works for one child may not work for another, so be open to adjustments and find the approaches that resonate best with your child.

7. Reward successes

Set your child up for success by rewarding them for positive behaviors and achievements related to bedtime routines. 

Consider implementing a reward system, such as giving bedtime passes to children who tend to call for their parents multiple times during the night. Each pass represents a reduced need for parental assistance, encouraging more independent sleep habits.

8. Seek professional support

If sleep issues persist or are particularly challenging, consider seeking help from a therapist or child psychologist. These professionals can provide valuable insights and techniques tailored to your child’s specific needs.

By implementing these tips and strategies, you can create a more peaceful and restful sleep experience for your child and establish a consistent bedtime routine that promotes healthy sleep habits. Remember, patience and persistence are key as you work together with your child to overcome sleep issues and enjoy peaceful nights for the entire family.

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