January 31, 2023
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This article has been reprinted from Talk under a Creative Commons license. To read original article.

Everyone knows it sleep is critical for growing children and their mental and physical health. Regular and quality sleep helps children strengthen memory and learn better. AND lack of sleep contributes to childhood depression, anxiety, and even the risk of suicide, along with health problems, including the risk of injury. The challenge is to make sure children register these valuable zzs.

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There is The three main components of quality sleep for kids. First, they need a sufficient number of hours – the duration of sleep. The quality of sleep is also important – sound sleep at night with little disruption or awakenings. And finally there is time to sleep — essentially a consistent schedule, with roughly the same bedtime and wake up times throughout the week.

Even if you know how important good sleep is, it’s easy to get lost in the length, quality, and timing of sleep. This can happen for rare reasons such as the pleasant chaos of a holiday or disorders associated with pandemic life. Healthy sleep is also difficult to maintain for everyday mundane reasons such as disagreements between parents and children, busy schedules, and leisurely behavior of older children on the weekends. But families have ways to bring sleep back to normal.

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As child development researcher and family therapist, I study parenting and family behavior that create a healthy environment for children’s sleep. In particular, I help parents develop a consistent and caring daily routine. Sleep patterns are established early and parents play an important role in educating children’s attitudes and attitudes. Here is the top tip I share with families, no matter the age of their children.

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1. Set and Model Family Values ​​for Sleep

Children are observant. They pay very close attention to both what is said and what is not said. clan rules.

For everyone in the house to sleep well, sleep cannot be something that only children should take care of, while adults who have freedom and power joke about your own unhealthy habits. If sleep feels like a punishment rather than a gift of health, children are more likely to resist it.

Adults need to talk and walk so that sleep is a priority for everyone in the family. Be a role model. If you have a habit of watching TV in the wee hours, for example, try to curb it. Talk positively about your dream. Pay attention to what you say and what you communicate with your habits, emphasizing that it is important for the whole family to get enough sleep and energize for the next day. Don’t make the mistake of saying that bedtime gives adults an opportunity to distance themselves from children.

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2. Know your child

Remember that every child is unique, so don’t expect one size fits all sleep advice. The child has temperament plays a big role in the duration, quality and timing of their sleep. For example, a more energetic baby may not adjust as quickly to a sleep schedule during the first year. And temperament is a fairly stable part of who your child is and will be.

It is the job of parents to continue to encourage routine and set limits, but with continued warmth and sensitivity to the characteristics of the one-of-a-kind child you have.

When you’re tired and struggling with your child’s behavior, it can be hard to stay positive. I recommend using daytime wisely as an investment in your relationship. Be active in seeing the good in your child. Remind yourself that your child is an independent person, learning in different ways throughout the day, and that child development is a marathon, not a sprint towards positive change. Sleep regression or other sleep problems such as nighttime awakening or change in sleep habitsopportunities for growth, not punishment.

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By laying this foundation, it becomes easier to use a positive and respectful attitude in times of stress. Remind yourself that change in time is more important than being in control of the moment. After all, strained parent-child relationships can actually lead to persistent sleep and behavior problems in young children.

3. Strive for consistency with some flexibility

In my practice, I see two common—but opposite—mistakes parents make about sleep.

First, many parents generally refuse rules and boundaries. Often this happens as a result of what children bring into the equation: personal temperament or age phenomena. For example, the peak of behavioral aggression, may come in childhood or a shift in sleep time, which comes in adolescence can make some parents just throw in the towel and give up.

On the other hand, other parents become tough. They view the conflict around sleep as a power struggle that an adult must win.

I contend that balance is key. Parents must adopt a consistent approach that is consistent with the sleep values ​​they have always known. But they must also remain flexible to help children tailor their daily routine to their own unique needs.

For example, all children of all ages should have regular sleep and wake times. However, parents may be open to co-planning with older children about what these times should be, or paying attention to patterns and cues from younger children, working towards a reasonable compromise that takes into account individual child’s needs. The message from parents about the importance of sleep should never recede.

4. Manage everyday problems that affect sleep

Research shows that certain problems outside of the bedroom pose an immediate and long-term risk to children’s sleep quality. These include exposure to secondhand smokeexcessive or evening Exposure to blue light from screens and conflict at home. Eliminating these factors will most likely pay dividends when it comes to getting your kids a good night’s sleep.

Good sleep hygiene is a family affair. It’s never too late to push habits in the right direction and make sure everyone gets the rest they need. Your child’s sleep habits can be an important building block for lifelong wellness.

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Erica Boknek is anAssociate Professor of Educational Psychology at Wayne State University.

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