Hi Dr. Sally,
I’m wondering about bedtime routine and sleep habits of my 6yo daughter… she doesn’t want to fall asleep alone, so either my husband and I sit at the end of her bed after bedtime reading and lights out. She typically falls asleep quickly. In the middle of the night she heads over (a short distance) to our bed. We are all sleeping pretty well despite this, but I wonder if we should correct this – are we fostering poor sleep habits?
Thank you very much for your excellent question. Please be assured that you are handling your child’s bedtime situation very well. What I will do to help is explain a little about the process of going to sleep and what parents can do to help their children through this sometimes difficult part of the day.
While most do not look at it this way, going to sleep is a pleasant time of the day that comes at the end of active and productive time. Winding down is the beginning of the process that you two start right after dinner. It begins with quiet activities and then goes on to quieter and quieter ones until you two reach your goal–sound sleep for your child.
Evenings can be filled with all kinds of reading, writing, music, conversation, and game activities. Since your child seeks your closeness and security all day long, and especially just before nodding off to sleep, do what you can to fill that need. If requested and desired by your child, stay with him or her until you feel sure that he or she is completely comforted by your presence. Do not hesitate to reassure your child at any time that you will be checking on him or her often throughout the night.
Here is the tweak. When you say you will check on your child while he or she is asleep, be sure to follow up as much as you can by checking frequently. Even while sleeping, your child will get the loving TLC you provide, feel your security, and in time be able to phase out his or her need to wake up in the middle of the night and come into your bed. Right now that is his or her way of checking that you are still there.
October! the Month of Positive Energy
More from “The Magic Words of Manners”
Next there is a query
Of interest and concern.
It is a simple question,
An easy one to learn.
HOW ARE YOU?
Then there is a gesture
Of kindness and support.
Get ready for the answer.
This one is not too short.
FINE THANK YOU. HOW ARE YOU?
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