Hands up if you’ve ever struggled to get your child to go to bed, been able to keep them in bed or even get them to actually sleep… I bet most parents have suffered with at least one of these issues at some point in their child’s life.
But have you ever thought you may be to blame? I came across a great article yesterday about how we unintentionally give sleep a bad name for children and it made for really interesting reading.
It looks at why getting kids to bed can be a struggle because of negative messages we send to children about sleep and the way that we say them.
In fact one of my biggest bug bears is parents who use ‘going to bed’ as a punishment. Using the bedroom as a place of punishment or time out will only lead to them associating it with negative behaviour and stop them wanting to go to bed.
So this article makes a lot of sense. It suggests that when you talk about going to bed you need to make it sound cosy, welcoming and warm. Don’t make it a chore.
Teach your child about the wonders of sleep – such as how they need more sleep than grown-ups because they’re growing; that sleeping makes them perform better in lessons and in sport; that reading rather than playing on a tablet/game machine is more relaxing etc. Encourage them to ask you more about sleep and why it’s good for them. You may find that if they know why they need to sleep, they may be more inclined to go to sleep!
As a mum of two young children, I know how much kids thrive on this kind of information and soak it up. I am often on the receiving end of my seven-year-old daughter telling me why she needs to eat her fruit and vegetables, why too many sweets are bad for you etc. In fact it’s a shame that more emphasis isn’t put on sleep in schools as it’s the perfect time to teach good sleep habits.
So the next time you find yourself saying ‘It’s way past your bedtime/ you should have been in bed ages ago/ you need to sleep now’ stop and say something more positive – you may have better luck!