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​Sleep email series - issue​​​​1234​

​​The Bedtime Routine

There comes a time when a young child goes through a phase of either refusing to go to ​bed or simply not sleeping through the night. While this can be maddeningly frustrating for sleep-deprived parents, it is actually quite understandable. Put yourself in your child 's place for a moment. In his or her mind, sleep means saying good-bye to everyone he or she loves, and that can be a scary prospect. So it's no wonder, then, that many young kids hold out as long as possible before finally drifting off to dreamland.

One thing that has been proven to help kids get to sleep at the proper time is to practice proper "sleep hygiene" - creating a bedroom environment and bedtime routine that are conducive to healthy sleep. This includes elements such as:

  • Winding Down - In the hour before bedtime, help your child wind down by engaging in relaxing activities such as taking a bath or having a story time.
  • Location, Location, Location - Once you are in the child's bedroom, continue doing calming activities. This is where your child will spend the night, so get him or her used to the surroundings. For example, have your child softly say "Good night" to every stuffed animal on the bed. Or sing a lullaby or read a few calming stories. In other words, don't tickle and wrestle with your toddler or fly your baby around the room in your arms.
  • Sleepy, but Awake - Put children to bed in the place they will be sleeping by laying them down while they're still awake. Resist the urge to rock your child to sleep in front of the TV or to lie down in your bed with him or her; if you do, and your child wakes up during the night in his or her bed, the surroundings will be unfamiliar because neither you nor the TV will be there.
  • Ritual Length - Spend as much or as little time as you need with your child's pre-bedtime routine. Just remember that whatever you establish is what your child will learn to expect. So, if you only have 15 minutes each night, don't start out with a 45-minute ritual. Keep it to what you know you can reliably continue and adapt.
  • Sleep Only - When your child is learning to sleep, he or she should be doing just that. That means no reading, homework, tablet, smartphone or audio players should be allowed. And no eating; beds are for sleeping only. The quicker a child learns this, the quicker he or she will learn to fall asleep routinely on his or her own.

Teaching Activity

Bedtime Ritual

This week, establish your child's customized bedtime ritual, paying close attention to the points above. You may find that you have to adjust the timing of the routine based on your needs and the needs of your child. Once you've established the timing, as mentioned in the last point, stick to it without deviation. Remember: Consistency is of paramount importance here.

Social Skills

Using Relaxation Strategies

Getting a child to adapt to a new bedtime ritual can be extremely stressful - especially if you're losing sleep because of it. To reduce your own stress level, try the following relaxation strategies:

  • Breathe - Breathe deeply and completely.
  • Relax - Tighten and relax any tense body areas.
  • Calm - Instruct yourself to remain calm.
  • Visualize - Visualize a relaxing scene (e.g. mountains, walking along a beach, etc.)
  • Count - At the first sign of increasing stress, say to yourself, "Three, two, one, relax," and continue breathing deeply.

You also can let your child know when it's time to "actively listen." Use catch-phrases like "1, 2, 3… look at me!" or "Give me five… minutes of your time!" to let him or her know it's time to pay attention and listen. You can even help your child come up with other catch-phrases they like.

Coming up in Issue 2

Fear of Sleeping


Monster Proofing



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