A well-rested child is generally more cooperative and will do better in school.
When your child's teacher delicately mentions your little one's chronic exhaustion, it's easy to lay blame. "She gets her riled up by yelling!" "He lets her eat a solid pound of chocolate every night!" But helping a sleep deprived child is an important shared responsibility that you can't afford to ignore.
1Stick to a bedtime, every day and everywhere -- including weekends. Children under 5 years old don't need the same "staying-up-late" privileges as older siblings on weekends. The more consistent your child's bedtime, the easier it will be for her to fall asleep and stay asleep. Exceptions to bedtime should be made only for extraordinary experiences, like a trip to Disney World -- not a weekend at Grandma's or a Saturday night gathering at the neighbor's.
2Follow the same bedtime routine every night. Bath, brush teeth, read stories and turn off the lights, for example. Getting your child into a state of calm relaxation isn't something that happens in 10 minutes.When both parents work, it's tempting to relax strict bedtimes or worse, mix up or cut-short the routine, but that can make it harder for your child to get the rest he needs. Coordinate these tasks beforehand instead of arguing about it when your child's in the tub, so that your child experiences the same calming routine regardless of who's putting him to sleep.
3Put sleep-supporting items in your child's room. Bright sun and loud traffic needlessly wake little ones. This might not be a problem in January, but your child may be losing precious sleep by waking at 5:30 AM with the sun in the warmer months. Combat these environmental sleep-spoilers by installing heavy shades in your child's room and purchasing a white-noise machine to drown out distracting sounds.
- Limit stimulating activities before bedtime. That means all wrestling, television-watching, computer-using and tag-playing end at least 1 hour before bedtime. Even bath time can be overly stimulating for some children, so put it at the beginning of your bedtime routine if you need to.Don't use weekends to indulge your little one's desired 10pm bedtime, letting her sleep late the next morning. This offsets her regular sleep cycle and makes it difficult for her to get the sleep she needs during the week.You can also try giving your child a slightly earlier bedtime. When children are overly tired, it can make it harder for them to fall asleep, leading to grumpy, tired children the next day.
- Don't be fooled by pleas of, "I'm not tired!" Countless parents wrongfully convince themselves that somehow their child simply doesn't need 11 to 13 hours of sleep like the rest of the preschool population. If you really believe this to be the case, speak with her teachers, nanny or daycare worker -- chances are, what your tyke says at 9:30PM at night won't match her irritable, yawning behavior during the day.
Things You'll Need
- Heavy shades
- White noise machine