Every parent knows getting your kids to sleep is a skill perfected and honed on the whetstone of bedtime routines and one more hug. And, being a parent is the most important and rewarding thing you can do with your life, right?
If your first reaction on reading the above sentence was an overwhelming desire to smash your phone, then I will hazard a guess you may be having a little trouble getting your little ones to sleep at the moment.
Don’t worry. You are not alone.
Getting the nippers to bed down at night is one of the most common parenting problems. I mean, obviously we love them but that does not mean we can’t hate bedtime too! Especially when getting your kids to sleep entails corralling little Tarzans that are practically swinging from the light fixtures.
Before you do something drastic like recreating the plot of Home Alone or turning the kids loose, à la Lord of the Flies, take a moment and read our top three tips and tricks to get your kids to sleep.
Ditch the screens
The temptation to sit the carpet crawlers in front of the tv or slide a tablet into their hands while you make the dinner or iron the clothes can sometimes be overwhelming. But please fight it in the evening times.
Screens of any size release blue light. These wreak havoc with the body’s ability to produce melatonin, the hormone that induces drowsiness. The result is that our little ones can become overstimulated. This is the exact opposite effect you need while trying to get your kids to sleep.
In the hour, or ideally two hours, before their bedtimes, you should be doing everything in your power to gently reduce the levels of stimulation your children are exposed to. Turning off screens is the first step. Follow this by dimming the lights in your house. Then transition to calmer forms of play. For low key entertainment, nothing works better than the good ol’ bedtime story. It was good enough for you, it’s good enough for them.
Make their bedroom boring
This might sound like strange advice but make your children’s sleeping environment as comfortable and unstimulating as possible. Your child’s room should induce them to sleep. Walls should be painted with calming colors – light blues, yellow, and greens. Save the tiger print patterns for your own room – you interior design animal!
Toys should be kept out of sight come bedtime. Either keep them in a separate play area or take a few minutes to clean up and store them neatly away. You can even make this a game. As each toy gets tidied away have your little one to tell it goodnight. This is a great vocabulary learning exercise too.
Make sure their room is dark, quiet, and cool. If they are at that stage where the dark still scares them, by all means, use a little night light. However, the light should be dim enough not to interfere with their ability to drop off.
Use Subliminal Trickery
This is a great trick from Swedish children’s author Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin. Ehrlin wrote a fiendishly clever book called the The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep. On the face of it, the book just tells a simple story of Roger Rabbit and his journey to fall asleep.
Underneath the simple narrative, however, is a lot of clever linguistic jiggery designed to nudge the child closer and closer to sleep. These include the use of repetition, frequent use of the child’s own name, and the active use of yawning.
Ehrlin wrote the book in consultation with sleep therapists and psychologists and the Swede claims that “every word has been carefully chosen to create the magic”. The ‘magic’ being the power to send kids to Sleepytown lickety-split!
After reading the book you can play the yawn game. This is exactly what it sounds like, a game involving yawns. By getting your little one to yawn, you are getting them to slow down, take deep breaths which will have a calming effect.
Now I don’t know the actual science behind the yawn game but it does wonders for my little ones. The trick is to get them to try and make their yawns as real as possible.
Off to Bed
Well, there you have it – three tried and tested ways to get your kids to sleep and promote healthy sleep habits in your child. It takes time and effort but training your kid to get into healthy sleep patterns will have a huge impact on their health and development. So, it is worth getting it right, right!?
Good luck, and if all else fails there is always the Home Alone option!
Hey, sleep fans! I’m Sarah, I’m from California, and I love my sleep. I used to suffer from insomnia throughout my teens and my twenties; until I got rid of some poor habits (like watching movies in bed) that used to affect my sleep and my happiness the following day. Since taking a few measures to improve my general health, I’ve never slept better…and I want to help others do the same! Come check out all my sleep tips over at the Sleep Advisor.