It’s probably no surprise to hear that our Good Night Sleep Site consultants are always working with new parents and teaching them how to get their baby the sleep they need. But did you know that we get just as many questions from parents with older kids asking for sleep help too? From birth to old age, sleep is something that will always have an influence on our health and wellness, but is also something that can experience frequent change due to stage of life and other outside factors. While we love helping new families become well rested (it is possible!), we know it is just as important to help kids get the rest they need too.
For quick and easy reference, we’ve rounded up our top tools to help your child sleep better at night. If you still have a question or are looking for support when it comes to getting your kids the rest they need, please contact us or join our Facebook Community and post a question there.
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How To Help Your Child Sleep Better
When your child is having difficulty with something, be it school, a specific skill set or a health issue, the first thing many parents do is look for resources that might be able to help. When it comes to issues with sleep, you should know that it is very common for kids to have trouble sleeping. Just like babies, kids are still going through a wide variety of developmental stages, in addition to also having more outside influences, that can contribute to difficulties at bedtime or throughout the night.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why your child isn’t sleeping well and what tools are available to help your child sleep better at night.
Family Sleep Rules
This might sound like too simple of a solution, but when is the last time you sat down with your kids and talked about expectations when it comes to sleep? If your school-aged child consistently can’t get to sleep by themselves, has trouble sleeping through the night, often resists bedtime or is clingy at bedtime, hold a family meeting and establish a set of sleep rules. As a family, you can have a discussion about appropriate bedtimes and set boundaries and guidelines for the whole family. Read more about how to create family sleep rules and printable sample contract.
Start A Shared Journal
Kids can find it tough to fall asleep with the day’s worries on their mind. From something that happened at school to an upcoming event or appointment, it is not uncommon for kids to have something on their mind that they are trying to work through. Communicating fears and worries is not always easy, but by releasing these thoughts before bed, it will be make falling asleep easier. For many kids, writing it down is much easier than expressing it verbally and can be a great communication bridge between parent and child. Find out how to create a shared journal or a personalized feelings box.
Charts, Clocks And More
Visual cues can be very helpful for motivating kids to get on board with making sleep a priority. Things like an alarm clock (or a toddler clock for younger kids) can help them clearly understand when it is okay to get out of bed or when it is time for lights out. Bedtime routine door hangers, quiet boxes and a jar of marbles are other tricks of the sleep trade that we often recommend to clients. Learn more about our sleep tricks.
Eliminate Childhood Insomnia
Often parents of 8-12 year olds notice that their children are now taking longer to get to sleep and assume that maybe they just need less sleep overall. However, their bodies still need 10-11 hours of sleep per night so instead of giving them a later bedtime, work with them to help get their sleep back on track. Kids at this age are extremely active. both mentally and physically, and need well rested minds and bodies to strengthen their cognitive ability, memory, alertness, and overall mood and behaviour for school and learning. Find out more about helping your tween sleep better.
Help Your Anxious Child Fall Asleep
If you have an anxious child, it is important to take the pressure off of sleep to avoid a stressful cycle developing. If your child becomes stressed before bedtime because they know it will be hard to fall asleep and that it may bring about conflict between the two of you, getting to bed on time is just not going to happen. Building attachment with your child at bedtime and having open communication about what’s going on in your child’s life can really reduce anxieties. Read about tools to build attachment and reduce bedtime anxiety.
Introduce Meditation for Kids
There is so much positive information out there about how meditation help improve many areas of your life. Sleep is certainly one of those areas, and kids can benefit from before bed meditation just as much as adults can. Read how to get started with meditation for kids.
How To Handle Nightmares or Night Terrors
Nightmares and night terrors are a common occurrence for kids. Is there a different between the two? What is the best way to help them through it? Forget about the monster spray, we’ve got some other tips that will help get everyone back to sleep. Read more about dealing with nightmares or night terrors.
Turn off tech at least 60 minutes before bed
This is a tricky one, and we would love it if you could turn it off 2 hours before bed, but we have to be realistic. If kids have homework, try to do it before dinner so that they aren’t on the computer and thinking about school afterwards. Often families want to watch shows, some play video games after school, and that is okay, but remove it from the bedroom, and try to turn it off at least 60 minutes before lights out. Read more about helping your 5-8 year old sleep better.
Sleep Support For Kids
These tools can be a great source of support for parents who are struggling with a child who isn’t sleeping well at night. But if you still feel like you could use some extra support to help your child sleep better at night, we’d be happy to help. When you teach kids how to deal with issues that may cause them to lose sleep, you are setting them up with a life skill that they will use for many years to come.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.