December 22, 2011
Living with children who don’t sleep on their own is an uphill battle. Especially when the kids are bothersome and noisy while awake, parents are often left reeling in despair. Some might even think of building a tunnel under the house to have their own peace and tranquillity.
To try solving the dilemma, here are some ways on how you can help your children become “Independent Sleepers”:
1. Establish a timetable.
Train your children by announcing “Bedtime” the same time every night. You can start by getting them ready for bed before (e.g. half an hour) their actual bedtime. By informing them in advance, they can put a halt to whatever activity they are doing in preparation for their Bedtime. Act out nonverbal suggestions by picking up toys to help them get the idea that play time is over. By giving extra time to get in bed, you will both experience less stress and imply a routine that should apply and be followed as a rule in the house.
2. Slowly keep the distance.
When you put your children to bed, stay only in their room for a limited time. Try not to make a habit of reading story books, singing lullabies, or patting them until they go to sleep. Because otherwise they might get the impression that you must always be by their side when they go to sleep. Say goodnight to them then gently leave. Make it clear that you expect them to stay in bed until the next morning.
3. Encourage positive and happy thoughts.
Don’t make them watch horror movies that will plant terror in their active and subconscious minds. Don’t scare them or stress them, as nightmares might occur later in the night that would make them fear staying and sleeping alone in their rooms. This fear might even cause sleep terrors like sleep walking and other disruptions.
4. Don’t succumb to their cries.
If your children cry, whine or ask if they can get you to sleep with them (or help them sleep), kindly walk out or carry them back to their rooms. This is called hard and strict discipline. Trying not to show weakness and being firm with them may seem heartless, but this is for their own good. With perseverance, training them will pay off.
Remember: Consistency is key. Sleep is a skill that is learned, and kids can’t learn it overnight.