Five top tips to help your child de­velop good sleep­ing habits

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Deb Hop­per

Many chil­dren strug­gle in wind­ing down and get­ting to sleep. They have been learn­ing so much through play or learn­ing at school through­out the day. They have been tak­ing in so­cial cues and learn­ing about friend­ships and re­la­tion­ships. Some chil­dren find it dif­fi­cult (as do some adults) in re­lax­ing their body and their thoughts as they wind down ready for bed and sleep.

When a child strug­gles to wind down and get to sleep, it not only im­pacts on their level of fa­tigue, be­hav­iour and learn­ing the next day but it also im­pacts on par­ents and car­ers as they aren’t able to have some adult time to de­velop re­la­tion­ships with part­ners or

wind down them­selves. As a par­ent, I’ve ex­pe­ri­enced times when chil­dren find get­ting to sleep hard and it does make for a long day and it does im­pact on ‘me-time’.

As a par­ent, you can cre­ate some rou­tines that will sup­port your child in wind­ing down and get­ting ready for bed. Some­times sim­ple changes to the rou­tine can make a mas­sive dif­fer­ence but for some chil­dren you may need to seek ad­vice from your fam­ily doc­tor, fam­ily health nurse, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­a­pist or psy­chol­o­gist.

Here are some tried and true tech­niques that you can test out at home to make the evening rou­tine eas­ier.

1. En­cour­age ac­tive time af­ter school:

Ex­er­cise not only ‘wears kids out’, but it helps to re­lease any stress chem­i­cals (e.g. cor­ti­sol and adrenalin) that they might have cre­ated at school or dur­ing the day. It cre­ates a feel­ing of well-be­ing and be­ing re­laxed.

2. Re­duce screen time:

Ide­ally have no screen time for chil­dren 1 – 2 hours prior to bed time. This in­cludes tablets and TV. While TV and tablets may ap­pear to be calm­ing for chil­dren (as they are en­grossed in the game or show) they are not calm­ing for the brain and ac­tu­ally stim­u­lates it, mak­ing it harder to get to sleep.

3. Cre­ate a rou­tine:

Fam­i­lies that have a rou­tine help cre­ate bound­aries and a feel­ing of safety for chil­dren. They know what’s com­ing up, they can re­lax into the rou­tine. Put the rou­tine in pic­tures and/or words on a no­tice board so kids know what’s com­ing up.

4. Within your rou­tine, sched­ule time for in­ter­ac­tion with adults:

Have a con­ver­sa­tion, ask them how their day was and be in­ter­ested in their lives. This also helps them feel safe and se­cure in them­selves.

5. Do some stretch­ing and breath­ing with your child:

Stretch­ing and breath­ing, such as kids’ yoga, helps to calm and re­lax the body. There are lots of on­line re­sources for ideas.

6. Test out some deep touch pres­sure:

Deep touch pres­sure, such as a mas­sage is ex­tremely calm­ing. For kids, use an ex­er­cise ball to ‘squish’ them. Get them to lie down on the floor on their tummy and put some nice firm pres­sure through the ball onto their back as you roll it over. Make a ‘pizza’! Ask them what top­ping they would like as you use them as the pizza dough!

7. En­cour­age them to ex­per­i­ment:

Ex­per­i­ment with giv­ing them­selves a hand mas­sage, en­joy a nice warm, long bath and use calm­ing es­sen­tial oils if there are no al­ler­gies.

Cre­ate rou­tines to sup­port your child in get­ting ready for bed.

Teach­ing chil­dren to re­lax and wind down is an ex­tremely im­por­tant life skill.

Our lives are so busy and of­ten kids get caught up in the busy­ness of life. If your child is strug­gling to wind down, try one or two of the above tips and cre­ate one or two blocks of time each week to chill out and re­lax.

For a free chap­ter of Deb’s book Teach­ing Kids to Stress Less, join our news­let­ter.

Deb Hop­per is an Ama­zon #1 Best Seller au­thor for her book Re­duc­ing Melt­downs and Im­prov­ing Con­cen­tra­tion: The Just Right Kids Tech­nique and Spe­cial Needs Re­porter for

Tod­dlers to Teens TV. She is pas­sion­ate about help­ing chil­dren achieve their po­ten­tial. A prac­tic­ing Oc­cu­pa­tional Ther­a­pist at Life Skills

4 Kids on the NSW Mid North Coast, Aus­tralia, she un­der­stands the day to day strug­gles that chil­dren, par­ents and teach­ers face.

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