Children are wonderful little creatures, but unless you establish a sleep routine, and establish it early, they will morph into tyrants, ruling the sleep patterns of all who live in the house.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, many sleep problems with children can be traced to unhealthy sleep patterns and angst about going to bed. Young children do not want to be separated from mom or dad, and they become irritable at the thought of doing so.
So what do these little tactical geniuses do? They ask for things…repeatedly? Do these sound familiar:
“I have to go potty.”
“Can you read me another story?”
“Why do I have to go to bed?”
“I’m thirsty – I wanna drink of water.”
What’s a parent to do?
Ã¢Â?Â¢Establish a sleep schedule for going to bed and waking. Keep to this schedule, even on weekends.
Ã¢Â?Â¢Be familiar with how much sleep your child needs, and what is age appropriate. A baby needs more sleep than a toddler, as do toddlers need more than school age children.
Ã¢Â?Â¢Establish a winding down time. To lessen the likelihood of battles at bedtime, make those times pleasant, something your child will look forward to. After a warm bath, which is conducive to sleep, read a favorite book or tell them a story that you make up. A good idea is to not finish the story, but tell your child that the two of you will continue the story the following night. This is something they will look forward, resulting in them looking forward to bedtime. Make sure this is not an action-thriller-you’ll defeat your purpose. Whatever it is, know your child and know what it is he or she likes, and make it part of their bedtime routine.
Ã¢Â?Â¢Have them stop watching television when it’s close to bedtime-this interferes with a child’s ability to fall asleep.
Ã¢Â?Â¢If your toddler is taking several naps or long naps during the day, try eliminating one of those naps or shortening nap time.
Ã¢Â?Â¢If you have other children, and the house is still teeming with activity, your little guy or girl is not going to want to be left out. Try having your other children engage in quiet activities around their sibling’s bedtime, such as reading. This way the toddler will not feel as though he or she is missing out on family excitement.
Consistency and being persistent are the keys. Your little darlings will try you in an effort to get their way. Remember, you are the adult, and even it sometimes feels as though your children are smarter than you, they are not.
It is hard work raising children, and although toddlers are a joy, they will test and challenge even the most patient among us. If you are to have enough stamina, moms and dads, make sure you are getting the proper amount of rest so that you can bring your “A” game when your adorable child says, “But I don’t wanna go to bed!”
Now don’t be afraid. You really are smarter than these little people. Really. Stick to a plan, don’t give up, and keep telling yourself: I can do this. I can do this, because you can.