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How To Help Your Child Enjoy A Good Night's Sleep
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What is the best time of day to talk to your child about worries and fears?
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How To Help Your Child Enjoy A Good Night's Sleep
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In preparation for bedtime, you and your child should try the following:• Avoid too much lively activity very near to bed time. Try to have a “quiet time” together, chatting or reading.• Avoid having an over full tummy. Any pre-bedtime snacks should be light and easily digested.• Do not allow your child to have cola and other fizzy drinks or snacks like sweets and chocolate which contain stimulating substances.• Keep the bedroom for sleep. Discourage vigorous activities in your child's room, or she may associate it with wakefulness rather than sleep.• NEVER send your child to her room as a punishment.• Make sure that your child's bed and mattress are comfortable, and that the room temperature is correct -around 18 degrees CelsiusChildren need to feel SAFE at night. The best way of achieving this is to let them have a very structured routine leading up to bedtime, with as much repetition as possible.• Choice of bedtime stories is VERY important. Avoid any scary stories and if your child is older check out what they are reading. • Keep the lighting low but the bedroom needn't be pitch dark. It is ok to keep a landing light or very dim night light on. • It is vital that YOU demonstrate a cheerful and confident attitude to bed time, and are able to be in control about applying the rules and routines.
If you have prepared your child well for bed, then it should be easy for her to fall asleep feeling happy and relaxed. Sometimes though, young children get very scared about being left alone. Worries can spring from both actual and imagined experiences.Here are some suggestions for helping your child to cope:Make time to talk to your child about her worries. Sometimes there may be practical solutions to them. If possible it is best to talk early in the day rather than close to bed time. At bed time, do not allow yourself to get into a long discussion about your child's fears or worries. Remember, you have already done this during the day and dwelling too much on them can sometimes reinforce the fears.It is most important that your child learns to go to sleep, without having you in the room. Kiss goodnight and then GO! If you are used to sitting with your child until sleep comes, you can expect lots of protest and a much longer settling period than you are used to. You will need to keep on briefly returning to them to quickly reassure them. Children love things to be familiar and predictable, and when you change their normal settling routine, it will inevitably be stressful for them. Bear this in mind when they struggle to get off to sleep alone. If you are able to be resolved, loving and consistent, the process of your withdrawal will not take longer than a couple of nights.
If your child wakes in the night because she has had a nightmare:Encourage her to repeat a simple mantra such as “Go away silly dream.” Demonstrate a calm and reassuring manner. If your child is feeling frightened and out of control, she needs to know that you are totally in control.Try to avoid letting your child into your bed. Unless you don't mind it becoming a habit!It is important that after you have been to your child to reassure her, that when she is calm and no longer distressed, you leave her to get back to sleep alone. She needs your help to cope independently with bad dreams, and hanging around for too long may reinforce her fears.
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