How do you handle it when you have an older child who doesn’t sleep well? That is the topic for today. Click the video below to watch.View Transcript
Dana: Hi, I’m Dana. Welcome to this week’s video blog. Today, I want to talk about older children and sleep. I’ve been in this business for 11 years and I am constantly surprised by the number of older children who are having sleep challenges. I want to give you some tips here today for dealing with that.
This is really close to my heart, because childhood is the one time in our life when sleep is perfect. It is perfect. If you get a child in a sleep lab and you monitor their night, it goes from one cycle beautifully into the other and so on.
Everything just fits together so nicely. It is so important, in my opinion, if that’s the one time in our life when sleep is perfect, then let’s do all we can to make sure that that’s happening for our children.
What I find happens with older children is that they’ve never been a good sleeper. They were a baby with bad sleep skills. They turned into a toddler with poor sleep skills. Now they’re 4, 5, 6, 10 even, and they’ve never learned to have a great relationship with sleep.
The biggest thing I see happen is that it becomes parent dependent sleeping. What I mean by that is you lie down with your child until she falls asleep. Now you’re in there two, four, eight times a night to lie down with her again, while she falls back asleep.
That really is problematic only in that you don’t spend the night in her bed, nor should you. If she gets used to the idea that you lie there while she falls asleep, then that becomes part of her skill and strategy for getting herself to sleep.
Then she would become anxious at the thought of getting to sleep without you. You can see how that makes sense. Then in the night, she’s going to have wake ups. Everyone has wake ups. That’s totally normal and natural.
Hopefully, they’re so brief that we don’t notice or even acknowledge them in the morning.
If a child is parent dependent, then absolutely at least once or twice a night, they’re going to have a full wake up, realize you’re not there, feel some anxiety around that, and guess what? They’re either in your bed now or you’re back into theirs.
There is good news in all of this, though. You can absolutely teach an older child to sleep independently. You have to do it gradually. There is a very clear plan in the Sleep Sense program for gradually moving out of a child’s room, gradually helping a child learn to become independent around sleep, and lessen the anxiety around getting to sleep without a parent.
Good news around this too, is that you can make this as positive as possible. You can explain to your older child how sleep is so important. There are some excellent tips on a website called sleepforkids.org. It’s very child centered.
It’s very easy to understand why sleep is so important for our overall health. There are some awesome bedtime routine charts on there, all kinds of good stuff.
Get them involved in this. It’s going to be for their health and happiness and it’s going to make the family operate better if everyone’s getting more quality sleep at night. Put some awards in place for this, too.
There should definitely be a reward incentive. Perhaps, every morning you get a sticker on the nights you stayed in your own bed, that add up to an even bigger reward at the end.
It has to be done. What I see so often is these children have a poor relationship with sleep, they don’t sleep well, they don’t understand why sleep is important, and hey turn into teenagers who have a similar problem and then young adults who have it.
I would make it a priority in your life to get this child sleeping well. It’s going to improve the quality of everyone’s life.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well.
Transcription by CastingWords
Also, if you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step guide that will help you get your baby or toddler sleeping 11+ hours a night you can check out The Sleep Sense Program by clicking below. Flash sale ends tonight at midnight!
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