Summer is quickly coming to an end and that means it’s time to get back into the fall school routine. One of the most dreaded changes – the sleep routine – can be the largest challenge. Pediatric sleep specialist, Dr. Whitney Roban of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ, has come up with some quick tips to help get your child’s bedtime routine back to normal within a few days.
1) Decide on an age appropriate bedtime for your child for the school year. Each day move your child’s summer bedtime 15 earlier until you reach the newly prescribed bedtime. For example, if your child’s school year bedtime will be 7:00 but you have been putting him or her to bed over the summer at 8:00, 4 days before school starts begin to move the bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments until you reach the new bedtime.
2) Your household should start winding down after dinnertime and bath time. Lights in the household should be dimmed. All rough and tumble play should cease. Older children should cease the use of electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime.
3) Every household should have a digital clock in the main living area and all children aged 2 and above should have a digital clock in their bedrooms. Children should be made aware of their bedtime and their appropriate wake up time. Having a digital clock allows for a child to have a concrete visual for bedtime and wake up time. This gives children a sense of control over their sleep rules. For young children who don’t know their numbers, place a sticky note over the last two numbers that contains a copy of the first number that signals bedtime. For example, if your child’s bedtime is 7:00, draw an identical number 7 on a sticky note and place it over the :00. That way, all a young child has to do is recognize that the numbers match.
4) Reestablish a brief and consistent bedtime routine. For younger children, this routine should be no longer than 15 minutes and should be the same for naps and bedtime. Bedtime routines lower the anxiety levels for both children and adults, as everyone knows what is going to come next and it creates a feeling of a sense of control over the environment.
5) All caregivers should together develop a plan of action for dealing with any sleep issues that arise in the new school year. Consistency, both within methods and between caregivers, is key in fixing sleep problems. Everyone who takes care of a child in relation to sleep needs to agree to the same plan of action.
6) Create a Sleep Rule Reward Chart. Choose the most important of your child’s sleep rules and write it on a chart. Only include one sleep rule at a time. Your child can help decorate his or her sleep rule chart. Take your child to a 99 cent type store and have him/her pick out a treasure chest and fill it with little rewards such as bouncy balls and erasers. Your child can help decorate the treasure chest as well. At wake up time, if your child has followed the sleep rule, s/he gets to put a sticker on the chart and choose a reward from the treasure chest. Rewards chart has proven to be very effective in working with behavioral sleep problems.
7) Stay consistent, firm, confident and committed to healthy sleep for your child. With parents’ help, children can be taught good sleep habits and families can be well rested!
About Dr. Whitney Roban
Founder of Sleep-Eez Kidz, Pediatric Sleep Specialist Whitney Roban lives and works by one philosophy: Parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made impossible when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based system. Whitney has 2 children, ages 7 and 10. For more sleep tips and information on sleep training, visit www.SleepEezKidz.com or Facebook.com/Sleepeezkidz.