Sleep disorders affect one in three children, they are a source of anxiety for parents because they often have an impact on relational contexts of daily life and the general welfare of the family. Here are some of the most common problems and some tips on how to deal with them more serenely.
AWAKE AT ALL COSTS.
Often when children are over two years of age, they start refusing to go to bed and to sleep, inventing endless questions, requests, and even crying fits.
In this case children are showing the difficulty they have in accepting the thought of being separated from their parents. In fact, sleep is seen as something alien to them which take them away from their mum and dad.
You should try creating a bedtime routine, not necessarily rigid but the more predictable the better. It is important to do everything calmly without stress and reward children if they were quiet in their room all night.
EARLY MORNING AWAKENING.
In some cases children wake up very early and wake the whole family. In this case it is likely that the child has had a sufficient number of hours sleep. If the child is small, it is a good idea to try to leave him in the cot with his usual toys and, if he cries, reassure him of the presence of his mom and dad, standing by the cot, but without lifting him out. If he is already 4-5 years old, you can establish rules where he cannot leave his room and can play by himself until breakfast time, remembering to reward him if he can keep to these rules. Finally, you should try cutting down on his afternoon nap and put him to bed slightly later at night.
NIGHT TIME WAKING.
Approximately 10-15% of all children wake up repeatedly during the night.
Often this is due to food problems, separation anxiety, parents which are too oppressive and demanding, or the child recognises an advantage from crying (playing, being cuddled etc…); this can also be a mechanism generated by the habit of feeding the baby at night to make him sleep.
It is therefore recommended to phase-out night time feeds. Try getting your child off to sleep in his cot, possibly in your presence but not in your arms.
If he cries because he is anxious (particularly separation anxiety that usually occurs between 6 months and 2 years of age) you can stay close to him, with your hand on his body, talking to him at the start, then just stay next to him in silence. It is also advisable to give the child a comforting object which can reassure him.
During the day, pay a bit more attention to your child, with hugs and cuddles, playing with him, then suddenly disappear and reappear shortly afterwards.
Nightmares are episodes (5 to 15 minutes) of intense fear that usually occur during the first few hours of sleep; children are frightened but not conscious, they don’t wake up, and don’t remember anything the next day.
Bad dreams are similar phenomena, when children wake and cry. The next morning they can remember their frightening dream.
These events are usually related to the development phases children go through (separation anxiety, fear of strangers, concerns about school …), bear in mind that they can also be caused by violent films or programmes seen on television.
It is advisable to reassure and cradle your baby without waking him; if he is awake it is important to explain to him that it was just a bad dream and calm him down. Talking about his bad dreams is a good idea as you can help him imagine a happy ending turning it into something positive.
FEAR OF THE DARK.
Fears are natural in childhood and are often related to those of their parents. For children they are forms of inner anxiety which they sometimes express externally. In particular, being afraid of the dark hides a much deeper fear of abandonment: children feel alone and unprotected in the dark.
It is important for your child to talk about his fears, and feel the physical and emotional vicinity and support of both parents.
Article courtesy of Chicco.com