preschooler, sleep, teenager, toddler

‘I have to go potty’ and other bedtime shenanigans

How much sleep do kids really need?

Let’s be honest…. Who doesn’t feel their best when they do not get enough sleep? I am the first to say that I am profoundly affected when I do not get enough sleep. I am an adult so I am able to express how I feel to others if I am in a bad mood or crabby because of my lack of sleep/ Sleep problems are some of the most common problems that parents face with their kids.  Children on the other hand are not able to express this tiredness in words like we can and often manifest their sleep deprivation in other ways.   Sleep quantity needs vary based on a child’s age. There will be some kids that are just not “sleepers” and will be an exception to the average.

Toddlers in general mostly sleep 12-14 hours per 24 hrs.sleepingchild

Preschoolers 11-12 hours per night

School age Kids 10-11 hours a night

Teenagers -9 hours a night (and many do not even get that much sleep

These are averages but they give you a place to start.

Sleep Deprivation gives bad behavior and can even look like ADHD!

Sleep deprivation can creep up on your child before you even realize. It is usually cumulative over a short period of time and before you know it you have one sleep deprived child.  In general, if a child is staying up an hour extra each night that by the end of the week they are about an entire nights sleep behind.

Children and teens often display their sleep deprivation in other ways. This list will help you recognize some signs that your child is WAY OVER TIRED!!!

*being less attentive                                                 *night terrors

*delayed response time                                            *bedtime battles

*irritable                                                                      *school struggles

*trouble paying attention and focusing                *restless and fidgity

*short term memory loss                                          *meltdowns

*inconsistent performance                                      *defiance

*lack of appetite                                                        *hyperactivity

Signs that your child IS getting enough sleep is if they are able to fall asleep easily, wake up easily, and are not tired during the day.

Bedtime Routine is the key!

Make bedtime a special time. It should be a time to interact with your child in a special way that is secure and loving, yet firm! Be sure to go through the bedtime ritual and then at the end of it, turn the light off and it is time to go to bed. Make sure that the nighttime sleep hours stay the same each day and same goes with waking hours. NEVER USE SENDING YOUR CHILD TO BED AS A THREAT. BEDTIME SHOULD BE A SECURE LOVING TIME– NOT A PUNISHMENT.

Make sure that all electronics such as TVs, iPads, phones and computers are off at least one hour before bedtime. This will give your kids’ brains time to unwind and decompress.

No TVs or devices in children’s bedrooms since that encourages screen time at bedtime—a big sleep disrupter.

Avoid meals and caffeine (HOT CHOCOLATE, TEA, COLA, CHOCOLATE) before bedtime.

If you have a child that has managed to master the night time “delay of bedtime” here are a few suggestions that you may find very helpful…

“I need a drink of water”——have child fill up a small dixie cup of water and place at his bedside– not too big as they may have to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.

“I need to go to the bathroom”—have child go one last time before they get into the bed.

“I am hungry and need a snack” —-give child a snack while they are reading independently or during the parent/child reading cuddling session in the bed.

“I don’t not want to sleep alone, there are monsters in my room” I am afraid to be alone” —–If younger child do a room search together looking in closets and under the bed and establish that the room is “SAFE”. Also put on a nightlight so those afraid can see in the dark and leave the room door open.

Not always easy but definitely worth it!

It can be tough to put your foot down when your child is trying to extend bed time but the more you do to facilitate the delay, the more things they will try. Disengaging is the key to success but it’s tough! Once you’ve left the room, don’t go back and don’t engage much verbally since that will reinforce staying up as well.

Even the most persistent child will start having success going to sleep on his own if you can be consistent in your disengagement. Ignoring your pleading child is tough! Especially if they are claiming to be scared or lonely. Know that if you have gone through your routines with them and shown them a loving good night they will gain confidence as they learn how to manage their feelings and sleep on their own. You won’t harm them emotionally or physically as you set limits. The data actually shows just the opposite! Kids who are allowed to learn to self soothe and sleep on their own have lower rates of anxiety and depression in preschool and elementary school than kids whose parents facilitate sleep.

And last but not least….


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