ANXIETY / FEAR, Behaviour, Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

SLEEP LIKE A BABY THIS WORLD SLEEP DAY

During lockdown we’ve all suffered from sleepless nights, whether that’s through anxiety, not enough exercise, unhealthy eating choices or disrupted routines. Added to that we’ve had clingier children who have picked up on our fears and anxieties too. In fact, lockdown has caused our children to become more dependent on us as parents and more needy than ever, leaving us at our children’s beck and call 24 -7.

Some children born into lockdown know no other way, others have just become accustomed to having us around doing everything for them.

But we need our U Time and rest as much as they do.

Friday the 19th of March is World Sleep Day, so here’s some tips to help restore a good night’s sleep for our little ones, because if they are sleeping, we can too!

CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

Children need to feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed in their bed. We can make bedtimes more inviting and cosier for our children by addressing the basics and reviewing them from time to time, as our children grow.

That busy, blue, rocket wallpaper may have seemed a good idea when you found out you were having a boy, but how practical is it today now your toddler wont sleep?

CALM COLOURS

We don’t want our children to be stimulated at bedtime, so instead of choosing the traditional bright colours for you child’s bedroom, opt for more subtle, green tones. Green is closer to nature and offers a relaxing, tranquil environment, which is conducive for sleep and much more soothing.

LIGHT NIGHT

Have you noticed recently that your child has started to wake up earlier in the morning?

This could be due to the change in seasons. We may not have needed black out curtains or blinds during the dark winter months but now spring is on its way, bringing lighter mornings and evenings, this can prevent them dropping straight off or arouse them too early. Any signs of light will wake them easily and affect their body clock, so it’s a good idea investing in blackout blinds or curtains, while avoiding night lights or leaving landing lights on to comfort them.

TEMPERATURE TROUBLES

As the seasons change so do the temperatures and what was once a nice, warm duvet in the winter, is now a hot, heavy burden in the summer, so changing duvet togs and the number of blankets or textures can help. Likewise adding extra blankets in the winter will ensure they are never too cold. Remember infants can’t regulate their own temperature so this is important for us to monitor. We can also regulate temperature by opening a window, using a fan or putting the heating on or off.

OVERTIREDNESS

Lack of sleep can be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing, no one should be deprived of the basic necessity to sleep. Lack of sleep is also accumulative, so our children have to catch up on sleep whenever they can.

Even if this means a nap in the day to make up for lost sleep at night. 

Parents sometimes avoid their children taking daytime naps, fearing they won’t sleep as long at night, but the reverse is actually true.  Sleep deprived children have the worst sleeping habits, and those who nap in the day, actually sleep better at night. Children who need, but do not take a nap in the day, become overtired. Physical and mental capacity is impaired with too much activity and stimulation. This can be nearly as bad as none at all, making learning to relax a useful skill, so offering quiet time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day, is just as important as napping or sleeping at night.

MAKE IT INVITING

When my children were young, bedtime was our favourite Us Time together. We’d chat about the day, have a story and a cuddle and share with one another 3 things we were grateful for that day. By making bedtime an inviting, relaxing time, children will look forward to it.

WARNINGS AND REMINDERS

Children see bedtime as a fun spoiler, especially if absorbed in play or watching their favourite TV programme. But we can make it easier for them to accept by offering plenty of warnings and reminders. We need to gradually prepare them, letting them know fifteen minutes beforehand, with 5-minute reminders in between, e.g., if their bedtime is at 7pm then start at 6.45pm with- ‘Time to put your toys away.’ 6.50pm, ‘Let’s brush our teeth.’ and 6.55pm, ‘Let’s hop into bed for a story.’ This gives them the chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves.

ROUTINE IS KEY

Routines have gone out the window for many of us. Not having to get up for school has caused havoc and late nights and lay ins have become the norm. children’s sleeping habits have changed without the usual structure to their day so this will have impacted everything else, such as our children’s behaviour. To remedy this, it’s time to start or get our children back into a routine.

The U URSELF Routine.

I recommend the U URSELF Routine to help restore harmony at home, as it covers;

U Time, Us Time, Recreation and Exercise, Sleep, Esteem, Love and Food, all of which impact a child’s sleeping habits.

You can read more about the U URSELF Routine on our web page by clicking the button below

Or alternatively you can listen to my audio book through Audible just click the link below

BE ON TIME

Having a regular time to go to bed is vital. Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it helps develop certain sleep wave patterns. These don’t change at the weekend; their body clock will send them to sleep and wake them up the same time on a Saturday, as it would on a Monday. So, bedtime needs to be consistent even at weekends.

We won’t be able to make them sleep while in bed, but our job is done when we make sure they are tucked up at a set time. There’s no need to argue with them to sleep, we are just setting a routine. They will fall asleep of their own accord when their bed becomes their cue to, and there’s nothing else stimulating on offer.

BE QUIET

Keeping noise down helps a light or sensitive sleeper too, if they can hear you laughing at the TV downstairs then that’s where they’ll naturally want to be.

One child may be younger, making their bedtime different from their older siblings, and this is where difficulties can lie.  Obviously, the younger child won’t want to be going to bed alone and will try to prevent this. There’s nothing we can do to make them sleep; however, we must still stick to their bedtime routine and make sure they go to their room at the appropriate time, ensuring all members of the family are respectful of their need for quiet.

PAIN

If their physical environment is conducive to a good night’s sleep, and hunger or overtiredness can be ruled out, yet they’re still not sleeping through the night, the usual culprits are illness, teething, and general pain or enuresis.

ENURESIS BEDWETTING

Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss. We can do this by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.

REGRESSIVE BEHAVIOURS

Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be ok. We must be understanding, reassuring any fears they have in a calm and confident manner, whilst still communicating to them that, what we are asking them to do i.e., go to sleep, is not bad but good for them!

Stay Present,

Em x

Behaviour, Esteem, Learning, Proactive Parenting, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

ENURESIS BEDWETTING

The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’

Photo by Rob Hayman on Unsplash

When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.

Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake though, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. This can be a good motivator for not wetting the bed in the future, being wet, cold, and uncomfortable at night is not a nice feeling.

As long as we don’t get mad or upset with our child, this is how they will learn.

Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

PREPARE IN ADVANCE

We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss, by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.

The actual issue of bedwetting does need exploring, but shouldn’t prevent them from sleeping once their pyjamas and bedding has been changed.

If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.

It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE

If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor.

They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day.

Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all. If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition.

Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?

Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?

Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as, have they been emotional throughout the day because they fell out with their best friend or because dad is working away for the night?

Photo by Arwan Sutanto on Unsplash

BE PROACTIVE

Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful.

This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too.

We may even already be aware of a possible cause of emotional stress for them such as having a new baby sibling, bereavement, moving to a new house, starting childcare, or a parent leaving home.

All of these things can be stressful for a small child, emotionally challenging, and are common underlying causes of regression.

If stress and anxiety is the culprit, we have to handle the situation just as empathetically and positively as we would a physical medical condition that is also out of their control.

BOOST THEIR SELF-ESTEEM

This means praising them when they call out mid flow in the middle of the night for making good progress by noticing as it is happening, how we react in response will either help or hinder their progress at this point. Getting frustrated and saying things such as ‘why didn’t you get up and go straight to the toilet sooner, or, not again, or, I thought you had grown out of this’ will only damage their self-esteem. This is the next part of the U URSELF Routine that we will explore in the next blog ‘Esteem’

What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children.

We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!

Photo by Thiago Cerqueira on Unsplash

MOTIVATE TO PROGRESS

What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting.

In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time.

Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development. What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future.

A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pullup, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see.

A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.

GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY

I always find that children who are given responsibility over their own lives, no matter how young, overcome challenges and progress quicker than those whose parents do everything for them and take control. This doesn’t mean not helping or being involved as a parent and leaving them to sort out themselves, but taking a back seat at times. It’s natural to want to love, protect, support, and do everything for them, but this can serve to make them feel as though they are a passenger on their journey of life. Events and experiences are out of their control and influence. There often seems little point in them making much of an effort to try or change.

Helping strip their wet bedding off their bed and putting it in the washing machine with your help, then choosing what fresh bedding goes back on their bed next or what pyjamas to wear all involve them in their own self-care. Instead of feeling low self-esteem at what can be an embarrassing time, they now display self-love and respect. They are helping themselves, and we are allowing them to feel good in a situation that could make them feel bad if handled insensitively.

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

It’s their bedwetting issue to address and solve. This way, they’ll look for solutions rather than feeling helpless and resigned to a life of wet nights, forming a habit that may be difficult to change later on. Now, in no instance are they responsible or to blame for their bedwetting, we are not suggesting that ever, but if anyone has any influence over changing it, they do!

And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower.

Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves. 

They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility.

Photo by Irina Murza on Unsplash

SEEK THE CAUSE NOT THE SYMPTOM

Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my soon to be published book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting. But let’s just say for now that their bad behaviour isn’t always that bad.

The less of a big issue we can make out of their bed wetting, and the bigger the fuss we can make over a dry bed, the quicker the preferred behaviour will become a habit. We can best help, however, by uncovering the source of their underlying emotional issue or anxiety they are currently experiencing and focusing on that, rather than the presenting symptom of bedwetting. Once that has been addressed, the bed wetting, in time, if not left long enough unaddressed to become a habit, will resolve itself.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Present,

Em x

Proactive Parenting, Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

SLEEPING PAINS

After environment, other physical factors such as Illness and pain can be a cause of sleep disruptions. If a child has a fever or rash, are severely lethargic or unresponsive, then we can assume they’re ill and need immediate medical attention. Teething or colic pain is not always visible but should subside of its own accord. Not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep, I know, but there are over the counter remedies to help with this period. If constant over a few days, then it may not be teething. You should always contact your GP or out of hours if you are concerned. Even if it turns out to be teething, it’s always best to get it checked, as our children can’t let us know how they are feeling. But we can usually visually tell or sense if our children are responding differently, always follow your gut instinct, you know your child better than anyone else.

If unsure of the severity of their pain, there’s a general test I like to recommend; next time they awake crying at night, let them hop into bed with you. If their pain magically disappears as soon as they jump into bed, it’s not going to be pain keeping them awake.

We can be sure pain is not the cause of their sleeplessness because pain remains, regardless of where or who they sleep with.

If your child has a chronic medical condition or they have experienced stress or trauma, such as a parent leaving, you might feel sorry or guilty and encourage them to co-sleep with you for comfort. We need to reflect on the beliefs we have around our children’s illnesses or circumstances to see if we are trying to overcompensate unnecessarily. Asking ourselves honestly whether they need our comfort to help them go to sleep, or whether we are interfering with their necessity to sleep alone because of our own emotions and beliefs.

Are we looking for comfort and company, or projecting our own fears and anxieties onto them?

If they are ill or under any sort of stress, they will need to sleep more than ever.

It’s tempting to comfort and soothe them to sleep at these difficult times but when will the cut-off point be? The odd night is normal such as when they are sick or have had a bad dream, but if we make it a regular habit, we could still be sleeping with our teenagers!

I know all those attachment parents out there who believe co-sleeping is best will be going wild right now, everyone’s entitled to parent their own way. I’m not saying my way is right and their way is wrong, but I have a strong attachment bond with my children, and we haven’t co-slept.

Attachments come from love, and I believe routines provide all the love and comfort our children need to feel safe, secure, healthy, and happy. Routines make us proactive and responsive as parents, helping us meet the needs of our children before they desperately need them. Mums need a good night sleep to be emotionally and physically available to their children.

We also need to maintain a loving relationship with our partners to keep that bond strong too, something sharing a bed with our children makes impossible.

There were 3 in the bed & the little one said ‘Roll over!’

I’ve encountered many parents who have this attachment parenting style, who reject routine and let their children choose what they eat, wear, and when and where they sleep. Personally, I’ve not found these children any happier than any other child. I don’t think children are experienced or capable of making the best choices for themselves. Given the choice, what child wants to go to bed early, on their own, or eat vegetables over chips?

That doesn’t make us unfair for insisting they do though. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an advocate for having close physical contact with your child. I kiss and cuddle my teenagers, and tell them I love them more than once every day, and have done so since they were born.

Since my children were born our family has benefited from the comfort and reassurance of a consistent routine #TheUUrselfRoutine

I also encourage them to be themselves and express how they feel and comfort and reassure them in times of need. But even though they are teenagers now, I still know what’s best for them, and yes, they both still have a bedtime routine and are in bed at a set reasonable time on a school night. Call me old fashioned, but I want them to get all the rest they can and to feel refreshed for school the next day. Obviously, they’d prefer to be on their electronic devices, but we take them off them at bedtime so they can’t. I’m not punishing them though. I’m helping them.

I encourage you to try letting your child lead the way if you want to experiment, then come back to a routine if that’s not working.

It’s a lot harder to provide consistent routines and to encourage our children to adopt healthy eating and sleeping habits, but that’s the kind of nurturing that being a parent is all about. They can spend the rest of their adult lives making their own independent choices regarding what’s right for them, until then, let’s show them the healthiest ways.

As previously said, we offer our children routines for their own good, out of love. That doesn’t mean that they are going to feel good about them in the beginning though.

If we have co-slept with our child for the last six years, but now would like them to move into their own bed in their own room, then we need to understand how they might feel. From their perspective, we’re telling them to move from the shared, warm, safe comforts that they have always known to the cold, lonely, dark, unknown room across the landing.

Understandably, this new bedtime routine would upset them and seem more like a punishment for growing up. Their behaviour toward the changes, which could lead to angry or emotional protests or regressive behaviours such as, bed wetting or clinginess, is not intended to upset us for moving them into their own room. This is merely a normal reaction to change and to feeling afraid, anxious, or unsettled.

Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be okay. We must be understanding. Calming any fears they have in a calm and confident manner whilst still communicating to them it’s not a bad change in circumstances, it’s just different!

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Next time we’ll tackle Enuresis aka, bed wetting, until then, Stay Present Em x

Routine, SLEEP, The U URSELF Routine

TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE SLEEP?

Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and it is possible that they can have too much sleep too. Routine is the only way to avoid too little or too much sleep.

We need to know what time they go to bed, when they wake up, and how long they sleep for in total throughout the night and day and make changes where necessary. Once we can rule out the amount of time they are sleeping as the issue, the next avenue to explore is lack of recreation or exercise throughout the day, an issue the U URSELF Routine will be able to address

WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?

Other reasons include; an inability to relax, their environment, nightmares, attention seeking, illness or pain, bedwetting, worrying, or more commonly; their inability to personally pacify themselves to sleep alone. 

All of these can be resolved once identified. Once they are, a nightly routine will emerge.  But a routine won’t guarantee our children will skip happily up the stairs to bed when the clock strikes seven. They’ll still be reluctant to sleep and won’t want to be isolated from the exciting activity of the home. Especially if they can hear us or their sibling’s downstairs having fun, chatting or laughing at the TV, making bedtime an issue.

Photo by Brandless on Unsplash

One child may be younger, making their bedtime different from their older siblings, and this is where difficulties can lie. 

Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash

Obviously, they won’t want to be going to bed alone and will try any way they can to prevent this from happening, there’s nothing we can do to make them sleep, however, we must still stick to their bedtime routine and make sure they go to their room at the appropriate time. Eventually, they will get used to this bedtime routine if it remains constant each evening, but there’s little else we can do, it’s their choice to sleep or not.

We know sleeping is an essential part of their daily routine, but they’ll see it as a fun spoiler. Even when children are familiar with and understand the benefits of their routines, if absorbed in play or watching their favourite TV programme, they won’t welcome the interruption those routines bring. Those things they enjoy doing will still always outweigh the benefits of going to bed to sleep. Unfortunately, that’s life—they have to get used to it!

WARNINGS AND REMINDERS

But we can make it easier for them to accept. The best way to do that is to give them plenty of warnings and reminders, but the worst way is to suddenly end their fun. For example, if their bedtime is at seven, and as soon as the clock turns, we abruptly say to them;

 ‘Come on, time for bed now!’

This can be an unwelcome surprise.

We need to gradually prepare our children with warnings and reminders first. Letting them know fifteen to ten minutes beforehand that it is nearly time for bed, gives them the chance to mentally and physically prepare themselves.

NO EXCUSE

Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep will have a knock-on effect on every other part of the U URSELF Routine. Impacting upon everything they do, and every area of our children’s lives. So, there can be no excuses to stay up just a bit later at bedtime. It’s normal for children to stall going to bed and suddenly get the urge to discuss events that happened in their day. Conveniently, these important matters can never wait, even though they’ve forgotten to mention them for the last six hours or more! 

In these situations, all we need to do to resolve such stalling is to let them know calmly that in future, they will need to get ready for bed a little earlier, allowing them more time to chat about their day or brush their teeth.

They may be a little more reluctant to chat about insignificant things when they realise it’ll take up the last few minutes of their playtime in the evening.

Alternatively, you may find that your child is not dawdling deliberately to stay up later, but are taking their time because they are tired, and they may actually need to go to bed a bit earlier in future?

First, we have to establish the real reasons keeping them awake. The excuses children give are not always what’s preventing them from sleeping.

If they need the toilet five minutes after they’ve been, this is unlikely to be genuine. That’s not to say our children are aware they are making excuses intentionally. Sometimes, they themselves don’t know the real reason why they can’t sleep, or why they’ve suddenly woken up halfway through the night.

We need to be aware though that whatever is keeping them from sleeping may not always be what they say.

CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT

We can help make bedtimes more inviting and cosier for our children by creating the right environment. They need to feel comfortable, safe, and secure in their bed, knowing we are nearby if they need us. The things they tend to complain about such as; it’s too cold, too light, too dark, or too scary won’t always be the actual problem keeping them awake at night. These can be symptoms of their underlying anxiety about something they cannot relate or associate with, as being the real issue. Still, we need to address these first by creating the right environment, as they could be the cause of their sleep disturbances and need to be ruled out. Making sure they have a comfortable bed in their own room that is the right temperature (not too hot or too cold) with the right amount of bedding for the season is basic. Keeping noise down helps a light or sensitive sleeper too, and then if any of these things need altering, they are easy to do.

We can regulate temperature by opening a window, using a fan, putting the heating on, or providing extra blankets to create warmth. 

Any signs of light will wake them easily and affect their body clock, so it’s a good idea investing in blackout blinds or curtains. Avoiding the use of night lights or leaving landing lights on to comfort them is advisable, unless a one-off occasion such as to reassure them after a bad dream. If their physical environment is conducive to a good night’s sleep, and hunger or overtiredness can be ruled out, yet they’re still not sleeping through the night, something else is stopping them.

The usual culprits are illness, teething, and general pain, which we will address in next week’s blog post.

Until then, Stay Present, Em x

If you would like an issue covered in next months blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Behaviour, Routine, SLEEP, U Time, Us Time

CHILDREN NEED DOWN TIME

Having quiet U Time and Us Time, time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day is just as important as napping or sleeping at night.

Since publishing this months blog New Year Old You https://happychild.care/2020/01/10/new-year-old-you/ I’ve had emails from parents saying they have no problem sleeping, that they are so exhausted they could sleep standing up, but their kids won’t sleep!

As we know, our children want to be with us all the time, flattering as this may be, we need our U Time, and they need their sleep. We have to find ways of encouraging them to want to go to bed and make bedtime a comfortable, relaxing experience they’ll look forward to.

There’s no Magical Cure, Sleeping Potions, or Sand Man in the world who is able to make our children sleep if they don’t want to. Nobody can really make anybody sleep if they are not willing to do so, not even a Hypnotherapist like me. But there are ways in which we can help our children to relax and feel comfortable to sleep alone, soundly throughout the night. 

Having quiet Us Time, time to rest, relax, and daydream throughout the day is just as important as napping or sleeping at night. Usually a cuddle and a picture book helps children to relax, and by finding a book that has a message you’d like to convey to your child is especially useful, the children I mind enjoy the Tony Ross Little Princess Story books, the I don’t want to go to bed! one can be found on Amazon here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dont-Want-Bed-Little-Princess/dp/1783440171/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=i+dont+want+to+go+to+bed+book+PRINCESS&qid=1579861528&sr=8-3

Physical and mental capacity is impaired with too much activity and stimulation. This can be nearly as bad as none at all, making learning to relax a useful skill.

A day at School or Nursery sandwiched between child-minders, breakfast, or After School Clubs and family and friends is exhausting and demanding for our young children. This is just what we expect our children to do as part of their normal day.

Children are so busy playing!

Providing an adequate amount of activity for their age and allowing them plenty of time to do things, unrushed, can help them with all the comings and goings of everyday life.

For babies, any activity or visits should be short and sweet.

It’s easy to overestimate what they need or what they are capable of tolerating. Routines such as nappy changing, bathing, or a trip to the shops are physically and mentally stimulating and exciting to them.

A bath before bed aids sleep!

We might not feel we’ve exerted ourselves by taking a trip to the shops, followed by a visit to Auntie Sue’s, but our baby will have.

Everything is new to them, and as they are constantly learning and encountering different experiences, we must allow plenty of periods for them to rest and process them.

Tempting as it is to play with them for hours on end with noisy, colourful toys, or wake them for a cuddle, passing them around cooing friends and family, this can all be too much for them to tolerate.

Friends & family overload.

They soon become tired and irritable for what seems like no apparent reason. Then after such a busy day, we find ourselves puzzled as to why they cannot sleep, wondering why they are fighting it.

Why don’t they just fall straight to sleep when we’ve tried our best all day to wear them out? 

Well, the answer is, they simply cannot relax when they are irritable and past the point of sleep.

As they have no control over what happens to them, and no way to communicate their feelings, they become frustrated and upset.

And being picked up while fast asleep and moved can be a rude awakening that none of us would welcome.

Babies don’t understand the journey has come to an end, and it’s time to get out of the car, into the hustle and bustle of a busy supermarket. They were happy fast asleep. So, we have to be as sensitive, understanding, and accommodating to their needs as possible by offering uninterrupted, regular rest periods in order to prevent them becoming overtired and anxious.

RELIEVING ANXIETY

It’s easy to spot if our children are overtired by how they behave.

Their emotions will be exaggerated, seeming unnecessary or inappropriate, displaying either frustration, sadness, anger, or all of those.

These emotions determine their behaviour, dictating how they act. Those feelings are there for a reason, they can help children regulate themselves if they understand and learn how to manage them.

When we recognise they’re feeling emotionally tired, we can reassure them they are simply tired and will feel better after some rest. Most children become emotionally stable and behave appropriately with adequate rest.

After a good night’s sleep or a short nap, they wake feeling refreshed and happy once again.

If not, then getting to the real problem and resolving the issues will be essential before expecting them to sleep well. 

We need to make sure they are not anxious or stressed but are relaxed before bedtime.

Problems from the day can be left simmering in the back of their mind at bedtime, or fears over future events can bother them.

If they have things to face the next day which they are not looking forward to, such as a test at school or even a visit to the dentist, these worries can cause anxiety, manifesting as nighttime wakings.

We can help eliminate concerns they have by using Us Time to let them discuss issues openly with us each day and by offering them the chance to relax daily. Offloading some of their worries and relaxing more will provide time to think, reflect, and rationalise their thoughts and feelings (we will look at ways to do this in later blog posts when we look at Esteem and The Bother Box). Make sure you join our Newsletter so you don’t miss it!

A regular bed time routine is key to a good nights sleep! zzzzz

Sleep is vital in restoring children’s mental and physical development and growth. As well as helping them to process the day’s events, and to make sense of all they’ve learnt and experienced. Without adequate sleep, their mental and emotional capabilities are affected including their concentration and physical coordination. So, when tired, they are more accident prone and clumsy, their memory and learning abilities are affected, making it difficult to learn, remember, or concentrate, and their behaviour, moods, and emotions are all disrupted.

Sweet Dreams!

They can even experience disturbances that hinder the production of appetite controlling hormones which could be a contributing factor in possible weight gain.

Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and we’ll look at these over the next few blogs, so Stay Present until then, Em x

Images courtesy of Unsplash https://unsplash.com/