is bedtime… battle time?
For three-year old Esha, and her
exasperated mother, bedtime is battle time. Despite various efforts
of her mother, Esha just refuses to go to bed in time. The daily
battle ends when Esha's tired parents fall asleep, and the
child still remains awake. This scenario is common in many households.
Parents end up getting late in the morning schedule due to their late nights.
The late nights become even more disturbing when the child
outgrows the pre-school age. The household has to try very hard to change
the child's schedule after the morning school starts. Therefore
it is very important to inculcate the habit of sleeping in time
at a very young age. Experts feel that the key to put an end to bedtime
battles lies in understanding why your child resists sleep.
There could be
many reasons :
Separation Fear: Many children
sleep away from their parents, either in different rooms or on a separate
bed. So they may treat sleeping as separation from their parents, and hence
try to postpone the sleeping time as much as possible.
Entertainment Activity: They
might be longing for some other source of fun like a favourite television
Bonding: Specially for children
of working mothers, night time is the only relaxed time with the
mom. As a result, the child postpones sleep in order to share
time with her.
Afternoon Nap: Some children,
especially pre-schoolers tend to sleep in the afternoon. So they do not
feel tired in the night and are too fresh for another nap.
To get to the
root of your child's sleep resistance, and to make bedtime less combative,
you need to consider lot of factors.
Establish Routines: Fix up a
pre-bedtime routine and adhere to it. Taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading
bedtime stories are normal comfortable routines. It makes your child psychologically
prepared for sleep. Once your child's mind gets accustomed to a particular
schedule, he/she will automatically feel sleepy at that time everyday.
Children of all ages function best when they follow consistent bedtime
No Stimulation: Avoid any physical
play during an hour before bedtime. Any such activity increases child's
mental and physical alertness
Limit Television: Shut
down television, music systems half an hour before sleep. If any person
is watching TV or listening to music even in the other room, the child
may not want to go to bed. Strict instructions should be given to
elder siblings for following these rules.
Avoid Caffine-based Food: Avoid
giving any chocolates, colas from dinner time onwards as it has got stimulating
effect on the body and keeps the child away from sleep.
Offer Rewards: You can tell your
child that if he/she is ready for bed before time, there will be time for
an additional story. If the child adheres to the routine, reward him with
either a toy or a movie of his/her choice . These incentives encourage
them to follow the sleeping routine diligently.
Remove The Fear: Many children
have fear of darkness. They do not like the idea of putting off the lights.
Help them to clear the fear associated with darkness. Ghost stories,
mysteries should not be told to the children at all as it may add to their
fears. Have a light chat with your child at night.
Avoid Making Them Sleep Separately
From Very Young Age: The child feels secure in the company of
parents at night. Until the child attains optimum level of understanding
and confidence about sleeping separately, do not force him into it. Create
a confidence in him first and then let him sleep independently. Forcing
him can create hatred and unhappiness in his mind.
Encourage Physical Activity During
The Day: There should be at least some form of physical exercise for
your child during the day. It promotes good appetite and health. Through
such activity the child gets tired and feels sleepy at night.
Keep Him Away From Afternoon Nap:
The child should be kept away from afternoon nap by keeping him engaged
in some favourite activity. There will be resistance from him for few days.
But once he is accustomed to not sleeping during the day, his body will
get tuned to the changed cycle.
All these solutions are not exhaustive.
You must come up with your own original ideas.
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