Saturday, February 19, 2011

How do I get my kid to go to sleep?

Obviously you don't just answer education questions, so here is a parenting one for you.  How do I get my kid to go to sleep at night? He just can't seem to settle. I've tried a bath, warm milk, reading to him, leaving lights on, lights off, doors open, doors shut...and hours later he is still wide awake. It is getting harder and harder to wake him for school in the mornings. Do you have any suggestions?
- Dad of an 8 year old

It sounds like you are on the right path. Keep experimenting. There isn't one right answer for every child, and the best way to find what works for your son, is to keep trying to find what works for your son.

Some variables you might try controlling for are sounds, sights, textures and thoughts.  

In addition to lights on or off, you might want to spend some time in the space he sleeps and look for things that might be problematic. Sometimes room-darkening shades can be helpful.

Consider what can be heard from your son's room at his bed-time. Sounds from other rooms, or from the outdoors can be distracting.  Try using a fan, radio or fish tank filter to create white noise in his room, or earplugs to block all sound.

Many children have an extremely sensitive sense of touch. Sleep wear, bed linens, and "friends"  can all be innocent causes of distraction. Breezes, temperatures and moisture in the room can all be factors too. Try using a humidifier, it may even double as white noise.

It may be that your son's active mind is what prevents him from sleeping. White noise is often helpful for this, but monitoring what he is reading, reading to him from soothing books, or even giving him a challenging question to ponder as he goes off can help with this.

Sometimes a change in room arrangement can help too. A mattress on the floor is helpful to get kids to settle in to sleep, and reorienting the bed can be the answer too.

Experiment with as much as you can to find what helps him, but remember that his natural body rhythms will be changing in the next few years, and his body clock may not align with the demands of his school schedule. 

1 comment:

  1. Our little one (6 3/4) is a night owl. I hadn't thought of textures and white noise. She's home schooled so it's not the same morning challenge, but sometimes she's just not as rested as I'd like. Thanks!