Rested Kids are Happy Kids
Dealing with a sleep deprived child is beyond frustrating. Kids who don’t get enough sleep are usually combative, cranky, defiant, and tend to have emotional outbursts. In addition to this, sleepy kids find it difficult to concentrate in school. Worst of all, sleep deprivation can become an ugly cycle. Children who don’t get enough sleep at night are often sluggish and tired during the day, but when night comes around they get an extra burst of energy. All too often, this means that parents are stuck dealing with yet another sleepless night. Fortunately for parents, there are a few steps they can take to help kids reset their sleep patterns and get the rest that they need to function.
Make Bedrooms an Electronics Free Zone
Ideally, children should associate their bedrooms with sleeping, reading, and quiet activities. Televisions, computers, tablets, mobile phones, and gaming systems undermine this by creating an atmosphere of stimulation instead of relaxation. Keep television sets, computers, and gaming systems in the living room or rec room. Older kids and teens may be allowed to have tablets or cell phones in their bedrooms during the day, and early evening, but those devices should be turned in to mom or dad before 9:00 each evening at the latest. Mom and dad can set a good example by giving their own devices a bedtime.
Let Children Have a Voice in Bedroom Decoration
One way to encourage kids to go to bed at night, and stay there, is to make sure their bedrooms are a place where they want to spend time. It doesn’t take much money or time to paint a bedroom in a child’s favorite colors or to let them pick out a throw blanket with a picture of their favorite cartoon character on the front. Kids will love being allowed to make ‘grown-up’ choices, and will enjoy spending time in their newly decorated bedrooms.
Create a Bedtime Ritual and Stick to It
Children crave consistency in all areas of their lives. Bedtime is no exception. Unfortunately, families have busy schedules that make adhering to a bedtime ritual difficult. In these cases, some families find it beneficial to create two separate bedtime routines. The first is the normal bedtime routine, and the second might be a shorter bedtime routine for busy evenings. Here are a few ideas that work for many families:
- Turn off all electronics and dim lights at least an hour before bedtime
- Avoid rough-housing or other stimulating activities after dinner
- Allow plenty of time for kids to bathe, brush their teeth, and get into their pajamas
- Read a story together as a family, or play a board game as a quiet activity before bed
- Eliminate snacks and beverages about 3 hours before bedtime
Dealing With the Child Who Will Not Stay in Bed
Children can be experts at finding reasons to get out of bed. They have a question to ask; they’re thirsty; they’re scared; they need to use the restroom. All of this can be extremely frustrating for parents who are seeking their own quiet time along with being worried about dealing with a sleep deprived child yet again. When this happens, it can be very easy to become angry or punitive which only makes matters worse. Instead, parents should be proactive. If the kiddo is always thirsty, make sure he or she has a glass of water available. If the kid has to use the restroom after bed time or has a question that just has to be answered, make a deal that he or she can get up one time only and only for five minutes.
Remember, well rested kids are happy kids. Creating good sleep habits takes time and effort, but happier, functional kids are worth it.