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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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/