Kids Sleeping Tips: Keeping Child in Bed
It is much more important to first ask yourself what might be causing the behavior than to ask how to treat the behavior. This is because the treatment depends on the cause. For some children, there is more than one cause and hence more than one treatment. Here are some questions for you to ask:
Is the bedtime hour too late? Does she develop a second wind in the early evening? Watch her behavior between 4-6pm to see if she is running out of sleep energy. Has she accumulated a chronic sleep debt from staying up too late or not napping well when younger? If you think that being overtired is part of the problem, then you should consider Sleep Rules plus an earlier bedtime with a Reset and a bell on her door.
Is she willful? Is not wanting to go to bed just a bad habit that has evolved over the years? If you think this is the case, then you want to be very strict with Sleep Rules.
Is she fearful? Anxiety might show itself only when she is alone in a dark room when it's time to go to bed. If you think this is the case, then you do not want to be strict with sleep rules or maybe not even try sleep rules. Talk to your pediatrician about a referral to a child psychologist for evaluation and treatment.
Does she chronically snore or breathe through her mouth when asleep? Then she might have large adenoids that make breathing during sleep a problem and sleep becomes a scary time for your child. Talk to your pediatrician about a referral to a child ENT specialist for evaluation and treatment.
More kids sleeping tips from Dr. Weissbluth: