Parents often believe that night wakings, sleep disturbances, and difficulty getting children to sleep is restricted to the infancy stage. But many parents of preschoolers will notice that sleep concerns may start to crop up around this age, due to changing nap patterns, feelings of separation anxiety, and, well, the fact that your child is no longer in a crib with four sides on it! Tackle the three of the most common sleep issues among preschoolers with our tips.
Your child refuses to go to bed.
At this age, children have a real fear of missing out. All of the games they played before bed with you and with your siblings, the books they read, and the television they watched is difficult to say goodbye to at the end of a long day. After your child is in bed, keep the TV sound on low and make sure the sound of your conversation or laughter doesn’t carry, leading your child to wonder what he is missing out on! Children may also understand at this age that when they close their eyes to go to sleep, they are separating from you for awhile, and that separation can be hard for them to cope with. Reassure them that you are always nearby and always there when they wake.
Your child won’t stay in his bed.
Is your child up and out of his bed multiple times in the middle of the night? Maybe he realized that he wanted a glass of water. Maybe his stuffed animals were not in the right position. Maybe his socks were on, but he wants them off. These are often manufactured reasons to get out of bed. The real reason he is out of bed is that he craves closeness with you. Keep these nighttime wakings short and sweet. Don’t fuss over him or get angry. Just put him back to bed quickly, but with a loving hug and a reassurance that you are nearby.
Your child’s bedtime is too late.
For a year or two, your child has likely been taking one long nap in the afternoons and was able to stay up until a certain time without becoming overtired. But when your child heads toward the ages of three or four, and begins to shorten her nap, it may be more difficult for her to make if all the way to bedtime without becoming cranky, overtired, and restless. If you’re noticing that she is becoming overtired at night, or if your daycare teachers are reporting that she is tired during the day, you may want to shift her bedtime earlier, by fifteen minutes every few nights until you reach a bedtime which feels right.
What sleep issues did your preschool age child encounter? How did you tackle them? Let us know in the comments section!