You have your routine set… bath, story, back rub… but your child just won’t go to sleep or stay in bed. Sleeping is such a natural thing that you’d think every tired kid would happily go to bed. But no.
Maybe there is a solution. Maybe the same routine does not work for every child. Kids’ just like adults’ personalities are different some are more calm some full of fire.
You’ll find here also some simple relaxation techniques.
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Consult your child’s healthcare provider before starting any treatments.
Your Child’s Personality
Maybe you don’t need to try to figure out your kids’ Myers Briggs personality but observing their temperament could help you a lot. I believe that knowing the temperament would aid in creating a routine for your child.
A few years ago I read a book called Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle. This book was an interesting read and it helped me to understand the different temperaments of kids (and adults).
Carol Tuttle groups the kids in four energy types. In her book she gives tips on how to recognize the type even in babies based on facial features etc.
Type One – The Fun-Loving Child
Type ones are fun loving children. Everything is about fun. They love to be spontaneous, bouncing and moving around. In general these children are very cheerful and affectionate. They enjoy being in a group; and high-energy activities thrill them.
Type Two – The Sensitive Child
Type twos tend to be calmer, softer and more sensitive. They enjoy routines and like to know the plan for the day. This type of child is emotional. Not a bad thing… they desire emotional safety and comfort and want that for others too.
Type Three – The Determinate Child
Type threes are very determined, they are the ones full of fire and like to be physically active. Life is an adventure to them. They tend to be loud, outgoing, and passionate.
Type Four – The More Serious Child
Type fours are independent, reserved, intellectual. They desire perfection and like to be their own authority. Privacy is also important to them. They are loyal and enjoy the company of a few close friends.
Some people are night owls some early birds. Some need more sleep some less. I’m always surprised when I hear that some people can sleep only 4-5 hours and feel good. Not me. I need 8-9 hours to feel refreshed.
In general, preschoolers need 10-13 hours of sleep and school-aged kids 9-11.
Bedtime Routine for Different Types
Once you have determined what time the kids need to get up in the morning and how much sleep they need it is easy to set up the bedtime for each child.
Of course, when setting up the bed time you will take into consideration the whole family and the mom’s need for some alone time before going to bed.
These ideas are based on my understanding of the types.
This type of child enjoys freedom and spontaneity so maybe you can keep the bedtime and routine a little flexible. That way it is not completely predictable.
- Read a fun story
- Dance a bedtime dance
- Have a variety of toothbrushes to choose from
- Fun pajamas that can be mixed or matched
- Make it a game (not to be competitive but for the fun of it)
She will not want to miss out on anything so if she hears a lot of stuff going on in the other rooms she will have a hard time going to sleep.
Type two child loves comfort and cozy surroundings. In general, she is not spontaneous. She likes a routine and gets frustrated when she is abruptly told that it’s time to go to bed. Give her a few minute reminder/warning to finish whatever she is doing.
- Snuggle time
- A calming bedtime story
- Cozy bed
- Comfortable night clothes
Get those wiggles out… some people just go go go until they drop and fall asleep. This child might be one of them.
- Challenges: How fast can you… ? Find your pajamas that are hidden in the….
- Check list (these kids like to get stuff done and enjoy being able to check things off the to-do list.)
- Ask him to count back from 100 or maybe 1,000 (this helps to relax and to fall asleep)
If you have a type four child you probably have noticed his desire for independence and privacy
- Let your child pick a bedtime (within a certain time frame of course)
- A set schedule works often well for this type of child
- He might also like to come up with his own routine and actually follow it
All types would enjoy choosing their own bedding and night clothes. If possible include them making their rooms or their side of the room a special place to hang out and to get the sleep they need.
Once you have your child in bed you can have your time and get ready for the bed in a way that is true to your type.
Kids can have trouble going to sleep for many reasons e.g.
- wound up
- mind just keeps going
These relaxation techniques just might help.
I already mentioned this with the type three bedtime routine. It can help to get the mind off the day’s activities. Ask your child to count in his head backwards from 100 or maybe even 1,000.
Even young children can learn to do belly breathing. Of course technically we are not breathing with our bellies but using this term helps the child to switch from a shallow breathing to a more relaxed breathing.
Also the 5 to 1 breathing can be helpful: inhale through nose, exhale through nose while counting in your mind 5-4-3-2-1. If that is too long for your child she could do 3-2-1.
This activates parasympathetic nervous system and enables the body and mind to relax thus promoting falling asleep quicker.
You know how babies just have to close their eyes when you gently sweep your hand down the forehead towards the nose.
Between the inner edges of the eyebrows is a acupressure point called Ying Tang. This point is used for relaxation and treating insomnia. You could teach your child to very gently massage this area or sweep his finger in a downward motion over it.
I’ve read that a good way to do it is to use the first and middle finger of both hands. Gently massage the area with circular moves in either direction. Whatever feels the best.
Before doing acupressure or any other treatments contact the child’s healthcare provider.
It is said that in general we sleep better when the temperature is not too hot (or too cold.) It seems to depend where you live and what season it is.
If you live in a warmer place then maybe 68 is too cold for an inside temperature but in colder climate in the winter that might be just what you need.
This seems to be a controversial topic. Some are against having any light and recommend that we sleep in a complete darkness with blackout curtains etc. Usually it is stated that our brains produce more melatonin in the dark.
I’m so used to sleeping with the blackout curtains that I have trouble if a light shines in. But it wasn’t always so.
I grew up in the southern part of Finland where the sun stays up almost all night in the summer. I did not use thick curtains and I slept just fine. Well, I guess my body adjusted to the light when the days got longer gradually.
So what to do. Lights or no lights. If you’d like to look into lights here are a couple of popular night lights.
These night lights have a dusk to dawn sensor.
Create a beautiful starry sky in your child’s bedroom.
Some kids can be easily disturbed by sounds coming from the other parts of the house. Some simply find it comforting to hear a white noise and it will help them to go to sleep and to stay asleep.
Sleep Therapy Sound Machine has a timer and a remote control. Your child can listen to six different nature sounds while falling asleep.
Dreamegg Sound Machine also has a timer or you can run it all night long. It has six relaxing sounds including ocean, rain and summer night.
Frequent or chronic stress is not good for anyone. It raises your cortisol levels which in turn makes it hard if not impossible to go to a peaceful sleep.
The above mentioned breathing technique brings down stress levels.
Stress-free means different things to different people. Create some routines, set limits on hobbies and all crazy running around. Enjoy time as a family, sitting on the porch, playing games, and admiring the beautiful sunset.
Sometimes moms push themselves too hard and end up with chronic fatigue. If that’s you, you might want to read When Mommy Fatigue Becomes Chronic Fatigue.
Importance of Sleep
Sleep is vital to your and your child’s health. During sleep the body repairs itself and the heart gets rest. Your mind and body relaxes and your brain does some cleaning up.
If your child has sleep problems talk to his healthcare provider.
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