One of the most endearing things about a child is their ability to live each moment to its fullest becoming totally immersed in whatever it is that has captured their attention at any given time. This same special quality can also make bedtime frustrating as some children have a great difficulty to put aside the moment and exchange it for one of inactivity and rest. How can we help them to take that much needed break without a fight?

Children (whether we realize it or not) need and crave stability

One form of stability is routine. A child needs consistency and to know what to expect. This makes it easier for them to think out their actions and plan accordingly. For example, if a child runs full force through the home they may fall and hurt themselves and their parents may get upset with them for acting inappropriately. This helps the child to adjust his or her behavior to avoid these consequences.

Parents need to establish appropriate bedtimes

The numbers below are those indicated if the child has been getting the appropriate amount of rest. Their needs would be increased if they are suffering from sleep deprivation.

  • Children 3 to 5 years of age need 11 to 13 hours daily (part of this can come from their nap)
  • Children 6 to 12 need 10 to 11 nightly.
  • Teenagers need 8 ½ to 9 ¼ nightly.

Some steps employed in head start to gear the children towards nap time are:

  • Toys are put away and out of sight so as not to distract the child. Sometimes a fast beat song is sung or music played to encourage group clean up before story time.
  • Story time. Reading stories in an animated voice and involving children actively in the story. This becomes a fun time so that naptime becomes less dreaded and thought of more as a special time.
  • After the story, drapes or blinds are pulled and lights lowered. This naturally releases melatonin in the system gearing the body for sleep.
  • Cots are arranged for the children with their favorite blankets.
  • Soft music is played and talking is not allowed.
  • Children who have difficulty sleeping are gently massaged on their shoulders and temples.

Some of the same techniques can easily be applied at home to help the child sleep.

The whole family will benefit from a quiet time prior to sleep as noise is a huge stressor in life. Quiet time encourages a restful and peaceful sleep, where loud noises can cause an interrupted sleep which is not fully restorative. Research has indicated that overtired children act out more than those who rest properly. Proper rest also aids in keeping the immune system functioning properly.  Children who are continually sleep deprived are more prone to diseases and disorders such as diabetes and mood disorders.

A warm relaxing bath with herbs such as lavender and a glass of milk is also helpful in aiding a child or adult into feeling relaxed and retiring peacefully fo r a night of sleep. Aromatherapy oils in a vaporizer can also encourage restful sleep. Chamomile or catnip tea is also good at relieving stress and making one more restful.

Some of the things which will interfere with proper rest are:

  • Loud noises, bright lights.
  • Watching something frightening prior to retiring for sleep.
  • Stressful news.
  • A heavy meal less than 2 to 3 hours prior to going to bed.
  • Strenuous exercise less than 2 hours before to going to bed.
  • Caffeine prior to going to bed.
  • A mattress or bedding that is uncomfortable.
  • Restrictive bed clothing.
  • Extreme temperatures.
  • Illness.

When a child sleeps too much they should see a doctor to see if they are either ill or depressed.

Marina is a freelance writer and enjoys writing about specialty products like full length floor mirrors, modern accent tables, indoor fountains and a lot more.

Photo from Sam LeVan