New moms talk about sleep a lot. How does their baby sleep? Mom’s lives can revolve around feeding and sleep. As their babes grow, it is something that is talked about less and less as we move into worrying about new concerns and milestones, like screen time, reading, and afterschool activities.
I want to look at one of the most overlooked basic needs, and how it relates to preschool and school age behavior. I ask the different groups I present to what they think the basic needs for our children are. The responses are almost always the same:
I agree! But lots of children that are having difficulty regulating their emotions, having trouble focusing, dislike school, or are argumentative with peers and teachers are having these needs met. What is missing?
How can you help get your preschooler or school age child get more sleep? Here are a few tips.
1. Routine. This is what I tell mamas with newborns and what I tell adults who are struggling with their own sleep. As humans, we thrive from routine, as it makes things simpler for our brain. When we know what is coming next, we spend less time worrying about it and it feels easier. Children age 3 and up benefit from a visual routine. It isn’t enough to just tell them what comes next. Printing pictures of each step and placing it on their wall in sequence allows them some independence in recognising what comes next.
2. This brings me to the next point. Children need to feel like they have a voice! Involving them in the routine, and allowing choice where it can be made will help them feel involved in the process and fight bedtime less. Let your four year old choose the book, or let your 7 year old set a timer for how long he can read at night. Allow them to pour the bubbles in the bath and pick their jammies.
3. Dig deep. Bedtime is the hardest time of day for children and for parents. Everybody is tired, children resist and adults can’t think of anything they want more than for the kids to just go to sleep. I see this in my own children- the nights I rush the routine and toss them into bed, they are more restless and bedtime takes longer, and I end up frustrated. I try to make the conscious promise to myself as we climb the stairs for bed that I will give them this half an hour and it will benefit everyone.
There are many more tips out there for older kiddos. Contact The Mama Coach if you need more help! What makes bedtime easier for your littles?