I always say it’s never too early or too late to teach your child to sleep well. That is why I work with newborn babies and senior citizens and everyone in between to help get the healthy sleep we all need.
There are some things you should know, however, if you are going to make drastic changes to your older child’s sleep.
The difference between sleep training a baby and sleep training a child from 3-12 years old is the baby is likely learning the skill of sleep for the first time. An older child may have learned to sleep well at some point and now needs to have a new sleep plan with boundaries and positive attention to get back on track.
Some older children have never learned to sleep well and may need to learn the actual skill. This takes a lot of patience on the parents’ part as it can be a big adjustment for children who have been either sleeping with their parents or using many props in order to fall asleep.
What many parents don’t understand is that it is natural for our children to test boundaries. It is how they learn about the world and what is appropriate and acceptable. They aren’t misbehaving they are trying to understand how the world works. Having firm boundaries with your child can help create a loving and trusting bond between you.
If you are ready to help get your child’s sleep on track there are a few things you should know first.
- It will take time. Making lasting changes to your child’s sleep means consistency and firm boundaries. Your child has been relying on you or other sleep props to fall asleep for probably quite a while and adjusting to new routines can be difficult. It will take 1-3 weeks for your child to fully adjust to their new sleep routine and schedule.
- It will likely get worse before it gets better. But not for long! When you start to make changes your child will likely protest the process. It will feel very different from what they are used to and that can be daunting for many children. With patience and lots of positive support, your child will begin to accept and then actually like their new routine.
- You will probably see some behaviours in your child that you may not have seen before. This is normal and part of boundary testing. It can be difficult for parents at times but trust me when I say that creating healthy boundaries for your child is one of the most loving things you can do. It creates trust – your child will feel safe and loved when they understand that their parents mean what they say.
- You will notice changes during the day when their sleep begins to improve. How we sleep at night has a direct impact on how we feel during the day. I have many parents that tell me their child’s grades improve at school, they are happier and more energetic during the day, and they have a better relationship with their child.
When one person in a family isn’t sleeping well it affects everyone. If your child isn’t sleeping well you probably aren’t either and I know from experience that we are all better parents when we are well-rested.
If you are ready to help your child learn to sleep well you can visit www.sleepwise.ca to schedule a free phone call and free sleep evaluation