With these uncertain times it can come as no surprise that our little ones’ sleep habits are a bit uncertain as well!
Children thrive on routine. With a lack of schedules, outings, and activities children are left without a firm understanding of what to expect, resulting for some in anxiety, drumming up a number of less than ideal sleep behaviors! Whether your child has new (or old) fears, trouble falling asleep, or wandering from their bed, healthy sleep habits are not something you want to let slip! Adequate sleep is linked to all the things we need right now – boosted immune systems, greater attention spans, stronger emotional regulation and more. Luckily, you can tackle both – sleep and the uncertainty your child is facing – helping your entire family get the sleep they need in a family meeting!
With all the time we have ben gifted together with our families, you’ll want to designate a special time to come together as a family to talk about what your child may be feeling, the benefits of sleep, and how you will work together to ensure everyone gets the sleep they need.
Address Their Concerns
I think we can all safely agree that it is understandable a child may be facing some anxiety at this time. The good news is, it is likely only situational and will pass as a “new norm” is established and daily routines settle. Let your child know it is ok to feel whatever emotions have overcome them. Validation alone can take away 50% of a child’s angst and worry. For example, you can say:
- “I know you miss your friends. They are so fun to be around!”
- “I know you are worried about getting sick. Getting sick is not fun and we don’twant you to get sick either.”
- “I know it’s different to have school on the computer. Your classroom was such agreat place to be!”
If your child is open to the suggestion you can give a name to their worries such as “Wilma the Worrier” or “Sammy Sadness.” When they are expressing concern you can ask, “Is this you or is this Wilma the Worrier?”
Point Out Similarities
Yet, while things are different there are so many things that remain the same! Explore this idea with your little one. They have the same:
- Toys, books, and games
- Favorite Blanket
Share the Plan
Let your little one know that everyone is working together – the people “in charge” and the scientists who know the virus best – to share with everyone what to do. As a family you are doing everything you can to keep each other safe! For example, you are a family that:
- Washes their hands
- Eats well
- Gets the sleep their bodies need to stay healthy
To get the sleep your bodies need, you need to have rules to make sure that everyone is feeling their best! This is the perfect opportunity for you to speak to the sleep issues that you have been facing.
- Tell them what they can’t do, but also the them what they can do
You can’t lay with Mommy until you fall asleep, but you can cuddle with your stuffed animal.
You can’t get out of bed in the middle of the night, but you can:
- look at this picture of our family and remember we are family following the rules to stay healthy
- put a worry heart in the worry jar (cut out hearts and leave them with a jar near their bed)
- take ten deep breaths
Plan for Success
Sleep helps us get the energy we need to stay healthy and do the fun things we like to do. Share this idea with your family and come up with a list of activities you can do together when the “sleep rules” are followed and you are all well- rested. In the days of social distancing, this may take some creativity! I recommend including big items such as going on a hike as well as smaller, more immediately available items such as play hide and seek or make their favorite breakfast together.
Implement with Consistency
Now that you have established what they can and can’t do, here comes the tough part – following through consistently. This will do two things: demonstrate that you say what you mean and you mean what you say, giving even more strength to your words regarding your family’s preparedness in staying together and staying healthy and overtime, this will also reestablish those healthy sleep habits you were working towards!
Ashley Chanter Rizzo
Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant Owner/Director
Well Rested Baby www.wellrestedbaby.com