Sleep can be a source of continual frustration for parents and children. Getting enough sleep dramatically elevates your child's mood and decreases irritability during the day. Sleep is also linked to cognitive and physical growth, and increases attention and concentration. Listed below is the average recommended hours of sleep according to age group:
Between Birth - Six Months: 15-18 hours
Between Six- Twelve Months: 14-15 hours
Between Ages 1 - 3: 10-13 hours
Between Ages 4-11: 10-12 hours
Teenagers: 8- 9 hours
Establish the ground rule that beds are for sleeping :
Older children will often try to use their beds to study. This will associate bed-time with school and anxiety; an association we do not want to encourage. Younger children may want to have toys on their bed, which is o.k. These toys, however, should be solely for bed-time. Bed toys should be safe and soft, used only as comfort object rather than play.
To help you avoid the bed-time struggle, create a bed-time routine. Start by avoiding the use of computers, T.V., and electronic devices at least 2 hours before bed-time. These tend to be too stimulating and will affect your child's ability to relax.
Dim the lights around your house closer to bed-time, and ask your child to go brush their teeth, wear their pajama's and snuggle into bed. Cuddle next to your young child and choose one or all of these comfort activities:
- Read a book or two. One of my favorite bed-time books for young children is Goodnight Moon.
- A warm drink can often be comforting. Milk or chamomile tea are wonderful.
- Try massaging your child's hands, tickling his back, or rubbing his feet.
Be consistent and persistent. If you are unable to do the bed-time routine yourself, find someone else who will: a sibling, spouse, or nanny. Applaud your young child for successes made with bed-time. Very importantly, applaud your self when you are successful!