Do You Need To Sleep Train Your Kids...Again?
You probably figured after you sleep trained your babies once you were done for good, right? Wrong.
Some kids need sleep training all over again when they hit the 3- to 5-year-old mark. And we hate to say it, but retraining can be really hard on everyone involved.
If you’ve ever spent a night running back and forth to your child’s room to bring glasses of water, accompany him to the bathroom, or perform a dozen monster-closet checks while you’re half asleep, you know what we’re talking about.
Fortunately, thanks to Janeen Hayward, Founder of Swellbeing, a parenting consultancy, we have some helpful tips on how to get your kids to bed—and how to keep them there until morning.
According to Hayward, good sleeping habits are as important to our health as proper nutrition. When it comes to breaking those “just one more” excuses, the key is consistency.
“Mean what you say and stick to it. Remind your child when you get to the last book that it will be time for bed once the book is over. Back it up with your actions. When a child gets very upset, empathy and redirection can work well. For instance, you can say, ‘You love to read so much that you just don’t want our reading time to end! I understand. I love reading and snuggling with you too and look forward to reading more tomorrow. Do you want a piggy back ride to bed or do you want to hop there like a frog?’”
Hayward says that kids are often very clever when it comes to stall tactics but running through a bedtime checklist can be helpful so they know exactly what will happen before the lights go out for good.
“This gives them a chance to address their needs and gives parents the confidence to ignore any curtain calls after lights out. Some children also respond well to being given one ‘get out of bed free’ pass for something after they’ve been tucked in. This option gives kids a bit of control which often yields great cooperation.”
For parents who already sleep trained their kids when they were babies, there are a couple of basic tips Janeen suggests now that they’re older. “Try keeping kids on a regular schedule. Children become habituated to a schedule so if you’ve let timing slip a little later over the summer, tightening up the bedtime to a reasonable time is a great place to start. For most preschoolers who still nap, 8PM is the latest they should go to bed. For kids who aren’t napping any longer, 7PM or 7:30PM is a more reasonable target.”
She also suggests trying a sleep clock. “Kids are very responsive to sleep clocks that alert them to their bedtimes and wake times. The key here is that parents need to reinforce those times so children understand that they need to stay in bed until it’s time to get up. I like the Zazoo Kids Clock and the Good Nite Lite.”
Sleep experts like Hayward also suggest making the bed a sleep-only zone. Try reading books and playing games on the floor or in another room, so that once the kids get in their bed, the only thing left to do is drift off to Dreamland.
By Jo Aaron @myplaygrounddrt