For as simple as it sounds in theory, the process of getting kids to sleep is one of the most frequent hassles of parenting. There isn’t a parent in the world that hasn’t had to deal with a child who can’t sleep, or struggled with the bedtime rituals which drag on and on, or the kid who keeps getting out of bed for one more hug or another glass of water. We’ve got a number of possible solutions for these common sleep problems in the upcoming sections.
Getting kids to sleep: Consider the bigger picture
One thing that tends to fuel sleep problems of all sorts is that there’s a tendency on the part of both parents and children to panic whenever sleep problems occur. It’s midnight, and your child’s awake, and all you can think about is how tired he’ll be when he wakes up at 7:00 to get ready for school. So you resort to unusual tactics, and if these fail, you’re only more frustrated. Kids pick up on this anxiety, and it creates anxiety for them too. Now their anxious mind may struggle even more with the task of getting to sleep. It may also lead to extravagant bedtime rituals which you do not want to repeat every night.
Ten-thousand or twenty-thousand years ago, parents didn’t have this problem. Families all slept in the same bed, there were no rigid schedules to conform to, and if a child struggled to sleep one night he’d just sleep in the next morning. Today, parents have lighted homes filled with appealing devices like televisions. They have rigid school schedules to conform to, baths to give, teeth to brush, and stories to read before settling the kids down to sleep, all done separately from where they’ll bed for the night. All these demands of modern convenience create anxiety, and this interferes with everyone’s plans.
So if you struggle with a child’s sleep habits, one of the most important things you can do as a parent is to relax, and remember that one night of insomnia does not spell doom and gloom. If your child is sleepy the next day, so what? He may be cranky, but it’s not the end of the world. Keep him on his regular schedule, and chances are he’ll have an easier time falling asleep the next night. A child’s biology has a way of correcting itself over time, and they’ll fall into the sleep they need, so long as you’re providing the proper allotments. Just as stock traders can get into trouble by reading too much into the swings and shifts in prices that occur throughout the day, parents can cause themselves a lot of unnecessary stress by fussing too much over one night of sleep. More importantly, it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. One of the best ways to experience sleep problems is to have you and your child worrying about sleep problems.
So try to relax. Approach these issues with long-term goals in mind, and don’t lose your head over the daily battles, which won’t help anyone. A cranky, sleep-deprived child for a day or two is not the end of the world.