If you’re like most families, your preschooler probably has some sleep struggles. Not that uncommon and not that big of a deal, right?
Preschoolers are notorious for battling bedtime – acting out, saying they’re not tired, needing to hear one more book, needing one more hug, being thirsty…. so, so, so THIRSTY!
Oh, the thirst gets me every time!
Top 3 Preschooler Sleep Struggles
That Parents Look For Help With:
1. Bedtime Battles
2. Can’t Fall Asleep Alone
3. Waking Up Overnight
Most preschool parents take a “get through the night” approach and hope the problem will end soon. But, will it?
I recently stumbled upon research showing that poor sleep in preschoolers can correlate to behavior and memory problems in elementary school.
So, while your dramatic, stalling, negotiating-master of a 5 year old may not seem like a huge problem now, they could be facing real challenges in 1st grade and beyond.
Maybe we should be taking our kid's frustrating sleep struggles a little more seriously. Not only for our own sanity, but theirs too!
Okay, here's what you need to do to regain control:
Step 1: Kick-Ass Bedtime Routine
Get your preschooler involved with this. What do they like to do before bed? What makes them feel relaxed? How many books do they want to hear?
Deciding these things before it becomes a battle is key to a smooth bedtime.
Step 2: Let Them Fall Asleep Alone
This is so important! Independent sleep is key to a well-rested kid – which then leads to well-rested parents! The goal is to be out of their room by the time they actually fall asleep. So, if you’re laying with them or sitting with them until they fall asleep, slowly start removing yourself little by little. Stop any talking after 'lights out' and even avoid making eye contact. The less involved you are, the more space your preschooler has to develop their own independent sleep skills.
Step 3: Make a Plan for Night Wakings and Stick To It!
It’s the “stick to it” part that parents have the most trouble with. Consistency is key. The more often you deliver a clear and consistent message, the more likely your child is to receive it. So, if you don’t want them coming into your bed at night, you have to stop allowing it.
And then you have to stick to it. Will it be easy? Honestly, probably not in the beginning depending on how long it's been happening. But once your child sees that you're serious, they will stop trying. And their night wakings will naturally begin to disappear because the reward is gone.
Step 4: Celebrate Success!
This is the most important (and the most fun) step! This is how you not only solve your preschooler's sleep problems but you also build their self-confidence. When you tell them what you expect of them at bedtime and overnight, and then they do it – celebrate, celebrate, celebrate! And don’t go crazy with rewards – your praise in the morning and throughout the day is enough. But a donut for breakfast can’t hurt!
You can do it!