Thank you to our guest author and Expert, Carianna Gibb for this amazing article!
We want sleep to seem like a positive thing! But understand that your child may have a negative view of sleep. So we want to make sure we are never threatening an early bedtime or threatening to send your child to their room alone if they are misbehaving. This can cause feelings of negativity to surround sleep and being alone in their room.
On the flip side, we want to talk up the benefits of sleep. To your child it may feel like sleep is just when they miss out on fun stuff (time with mom and dad, playtime, etc). Talk about how you feel when you get good sleep. Ask them how they feel. Talk about how sleep makes their brain smarter and their body stronger. Talk up the positivity!
Take the steps of your current bedtime routine, maybe even let them add a special step that they get to choose (within reason), and create a visual chart. Decorate it together. Get them on your team. This can help them to take some ownership with bedtime and feel more in control.
When you actually go through your routine, ask them to tell you what’s next if they are struggling. “Hey, can you check the chart and tell me what’s next?” Really play it up that they are helping you. That can also help them to not feel powerless at bedtime.
I know this is a hard one. But if we are constantly changing our routine or allowing our child to stall bedtime, or changing our responses to them, they have no idea what to expect. This can cause anxiety around sleep. They just have no idea what could be coming. When you have set routines and your child knows exactly what to expect, it really helps them to feel confident and comfortable in that. That gets them on your team.
While it can be hard to be consistent at first, your child will thank you in the long term and they will stop resisting those boundaries when they understand those boundaries and see them followed night after night.
Ready to foster a healthy relationship with sleep for your child? Check out my Toddler & Preschooler Sleep Course
Carianna Gibb is the founder of All The Sleeps, a pediatric sleep consulting company. Carianna helps tired + overwhelmed moms teach their littles to LOVE sleep. When she works with families, she takes the guesswork out so that they can feel confident while making positive sleep changes. Carianna sought out the world of pediatric sleep after graduating with her Master’s in Exercise Physiology. She had 2 boys and quickly learned how precious (and tricky) sleep could be as a mom!
After realizing how much more there was to learn about pediatric sleep AND how much Carianna wanted to share this knowledge with other struggling families, she decided to become a pediatric sleep consultant. Carianna became a Certified Sleep Consultant through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting in 2017 as well as a member of the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants.
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