Ten Things you can do to help your Child Fall Asleep

My kids have been a mixed bag when it comes to sleep. Becoming a parent made me realise how how important sleep is and how much sleep I actually need!
This weekend we had to go back to basics with our eight-year-old. After a 2-week holiday and being a bit jet lagged I needed to get him back to a routine to go back to school.
So this blog post kindly written by Vicky who is a Child behaviour specialist came at just the right time for us!!

Ten Things you can do to help your Child Fall Asleep

When your little one finds it hard to go to sleep at night, it can cause all kinds of problems for you as a family. You start off patiently, but when your child has asked for their fourth drink or heard the third ‘strange noise’ of the night, you start to lose your patience. You’re tired, your child is tired and tensions can start to run high as you miss yet another evening to yourself!

I’ve been there. I find it hard to fall asleep myself. If we think about what keeps us awake at night, then we can start to relate that to the actions of our children. My son finds it difficult to get to sleep sometimes too, so these are ten things you can try to help your child to fall asleep.

Tip number 1.
Our bodies love routine. So making sure bedtime is the same time every night and wake-up time is the same every morning, is a really good way for the body to ‘learn’ when it should be asleep. You’ve probably noticed that trying to have a lie in on a weekend (as a mum) is useless because even if your child sleeps later, you will probably still wake up at the usual time!

Tip number 2.
Have a bedtime routine. Yes! Routines are so good for us so I’m mentioning it twice. This time, however, I’m talking about having a routine in the lead up to bedtime.
A nice simple routine to try would be a bath, followed by a warm drink with a story and a cuddle in bed before it’s time to say goodnight. Keep lights low and noise to a minimum during this time, to help your child wind down.
The routine will start become a ‘que’ for the body to know it’s time to go to sleep. You need to give it time though.

Tip number 3.
Sleep stories can be a fantastic way of giving your child something to focus on while falling asleep. There are lots of Apps and Podcasts available for you to try, but you can also do your own.

In our house, we use more of a guided visualisation. My son absolutely loves the beach! He feels very calm there, so this is where we go in the visualisation. I ask him to close his eyes and imagine himself at the beach. I ask him to think about what he can see, what he can hear and what he can smell. He tells me about the sea and the noise of the seagulls and eating ice-cream.

Then I gently say goodnight and leave him in his ‘calm’ place.

Tip number 4.
I mentioned earlier that worrying or anxiety can keep children awake at night. I’m sure you can relate to this too because everyone will be kept awake once and a while, worrying about a big meeting at work the next day or stressing about moving house. It’s common, but when it’s happening every night, we need to find a way to overcome it.

Adults can feel better if they keep a notebook and pen by the side of their bed and simply write down what they are worrying about if it’s keeping them awake. We can do something similar with our children. A worry box is a nice idea. You can make your own worry box at home by making a shoe box into a post box and decorating it. Before bedtime, encourage your child to write down their worries on pieces of paper, fold them up and post them into the worry box – never to be seen again!

Just writing down their worries can really make your child feel better, as worries build if they keep them bottled up inside.

Tip number 5.
I think we’ve all heard this one before, but I’ll remind you anyway.

Using electronics before bedtime delays your body’s internal clock and suppresses the release of melatonin (which is the hormone that induces sleep); making it harder to fall asleep.

Try and stop the use of electronics in the hour leading up to bedtime.

Tip number 6.
Weighted blankets can help a variety of people get to sleep more quickly and get a better quality night’s sleep, because they promote a feeling of calm.

The weight simulates the feeling of a firm hug, mimicking the benefits of deep pressure stimulation therapy. It helps reduce anxiety and helps you fight back against stress.

The deep touch pressure stimulation increases production of serotonin, helping to regulate your sleep as well as things like your mood and memory.

Weighted blankets are not suitable for babies and you should always check and follow the instructions that come with your blanket before using it.

Tip number 7.
Massage is a brilliant way to promote calm for children.

All of the children I have worked with, including my own, love a hand massage from their parents.

The contact from the parents is comforting to the child and because it involves the hands, it gives them something to focus on. This brings your child into the ‘here and now’ for a few minutes, giving them a break from worrying about what is going on around them, or what is going to happen in the future.

This is great addition to a bedtime routine.

Tip number 8.
I mentioned massage as a way of bringing your child into the ‘here and now’, but mindfulness in general is a good way of promoting calm and helping children sleep.

It is a way of taking charge of a mind that likes to run away with itself!

Anything that helps bring your child into the present moment will help encourage mindfulness and trying to encourage your child to focus on one thing at a time during their everyday activities will help.

As well as massage, deep breathing also gives your child something to focus on. Encourage them to breathe in for the count of four then out for the count of six.

Tip number 9.
We love affirmations in our house! These are positive statements that your child reads out loud every day to help promote self-esteem and a positive mindset.
Statements like ‘I am brave’ or ‘I am calm’ are a good starting point for this exercise.

Take any negative thoughts your child experiences and try and turn them around into positive affirmations.

For example, if your child finds it hard to make new friends, you could try something like ‘I am a good friend’.

Helping your child develop a more positive mindset will help to reduce anxieties that may keep them awake at night.

Tip number 10.
My last tip for you is to encourage your child to write a journal.

This is like writing a diary, but instead of just listing what they are doing each day, your child should try and include how they have been feeling throughout the day.

You can start by encouraging them to write down their favourite and least favourite things that have happened in the day, and then encourage them to give reasons.

This will help your child start to understand their emotions and reduces the likelihood of them bottling up negative feeling inside.

Thank you so much to Vicky for writing this blog post, please do check out what does by following the links below.

Facebook Page
The Confident Kids Community