Getting Preschoolers to Sleep

Getting Preschoolers to Sleep

Bedtime should be a time for relaxing and cozying up with your little ones, but for many families with preschoolers, just getting them into bed can be a nightmare. Children at that age are still adjusting to separation from mommy and daddy, which can make bedtime an emotional struggle for everyone involved. Fortunately, there are ways to ease bedtime anxiety for young children. Establish these Four R’s to make nightie-night time a smooth, stress-free process in your house:

Routine

Rhythm

Rituals

Reassurance

It’s no secret that young children thrive on routine. Whether they know it or not, they need a regular schedule as much as they need a good night’s sleep. Build up to bedtime each night with a warm bath, dim lights and soft music an hour before it’s time to hit the hay. And don’t miss the opportunity to read to your little one as a grand finale. A good routine is like a solid train track, providing a predictable, consistent course for your child’s day and the promise of smooth travel into the night.

Once a train gets into a groove or rhythm on a steady, predictable path, it can literally lull you to sleep. In the same way, continuously carrying out a routine with your child creates a rhythm that will ease him into bedtime night after night. Try to keep the time and schedule of events consistent each night, and build in a little wiggle room for any emotional outbursts or anxiety that may occur.

Rituals are the elements of your routine that make bedtime special. Examples of rituals include saying goodnight to all the stuffed animals in your preschooler’s room, reading Goodnight Moon or another favorite bedtime story, saying prayers or giving butterfly kisses. Rituals are the special ribbons that run through the routine, providing your child with the fourth essential “R” – reassurance.

Reassurance is so important to children. Much of their anxiety can be soothed by reassuring them that they are safe and loved, and that you are never far away.

Establishing a predictable routine, soothing rhythm and special rituals helps to create reassurance, but sometimes your preschooler needs a little extra reminder. When your child show signs of anxiety at bedtime, instead of getting frustrated and sending her back to bed, provide brief, but loving reassurance. If your little one gets up after you’ve tucked him in, gently walk him back to his bed, tuck him in and whisper, “I am here and you are safe and we will see each other again in the morning.”

Bedtime doesn’t have to be stressful for you and your preschooler. Incorporate the Four R’s and a little extra patience into bedtime so your little one – and everyone in your household – can get a good night’s sleep that prepares you for the day ahead.

What special rituals have you made part of your preschooler’s bedtime routine?

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