3 Tips For A Bed Time Routine | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s webisode, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst gives viewers 3 practical tips on how to get your child into a bed-time routine.    Read this blog for more bed-time routine tips:

In This Video You Will Learn:

  • What type of bed-time schedule to create
  • Why consistency matter when starting a bed-time routine
  • At what time to start your bed-time routine with your child

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn. Robyn Ackerman: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I am your host, Robyn Ackerman, and today I’m standing with a behavior analyst, Katie Sadowski. Katie, can you please give our viewers three tips to getting a child into a bedtime routine? Katie Sadowski: Yes. In regards to getting your child into a bedtime routine, that is something that can be tricky. One thing that is very helpful is creating a schedule. With this schedule, it should be a visual schedule so that the child can see the different pictures. You want to incorporate the different things that need to be done in the bedtime routine. If the child is age appropriate, he should definitely be involved with helping create this schedule. Some things that should be in a bedtime routine schedule would be things like taking a bath, putting on your pajamas, brushing your teeth, getting a drink of water, picking a friend to go to bed with so his favorite teddy bear or maybe just a favorite doll, any kind of stuffed animal that your child likes, as well as reading a book, and then saying goodnight. With this schedule, you want to make sure that any of the activities you use, they are calming. You don’t want to be having activities that would get your child very energetic and hyper. That would defeat the purpose. Also when you are using the schedule, you want to make sure that you pick a time and stick with that time. In regards to the time, you would want to start the schedule about an hour before so that the child is actually done with the schedule and sleeping when you do want him in bed. So, for example, if you want your child sleeping at 7:00, you would start the schedule at about 6:00. Also, with the schedule, it’s very helpful if you can make it to where the kid can put a sticker or a checkmark after he completes each activity. That way, he can see the different steps that he’s completing and how that accomplishments. And one more thing that, at the end, after your story and you say your goodnights, you do then want to go ahead and let your child know that you are going to come back and check on them to make sure they’re sleeping. You don’t want to let your child think, well, mom and dad are gone, so now I can go play or I can sit up and do what I want. Give them that warning that you will be back, and if you do come back and they are up, just say, “Okay, goodnight. I’ll be back a little later.” And that’s something that can definitely help get your child in a routine. Robyn; All right. Thank you so much, Katie. Katie: You’re welcome. Robyn: And thank you to our viewers, and remember, keep on blossoming. Announncer; This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at LearnMore.me. That’s LearnMore.me.

Helpful Tips to Get Your Child into a Bedtime Routine

Many parents struggle with getting their children to bed on time. Parents often give their children a bedtime that is not met. To help get your child following a routine and eliminate a bedtime battle, try the following tips.

5 Steps to Creating a Stress-free Bedtime:parents and child at bedtime

  1. Create a picture schedule to help your son or daughter complete their bedtime routine. If it is age appropriate have them help create the schedule with you.
  2. You want to make sure that the schedule is accessible and being used throughout the different bedtime steps. After your child completes each step have them put a sticker or a check mark by it to show that it was completed successfully. Your child will feel a sense of accomplishment and pride for completing these tasks, as well as, have a visual reminder of what steps are done and what are still remaining before lights out.  Some activities that you can include on the schedule are:
    1. Take a bath
    2. Put on pajamas
    3. Brush teeth
    4. Get a drink of water
    5. Pick a friend to bring to bed (i.e., teddy bear, doll, or another favorite stuffed animal)
    6. Pick out a book to read
    7. Go to bed
  3. It is very important to keep in mind that you should start the bedtime routine at the same time every night about an hour before your child should be sleeping. For example, if you want your child to be sleeping by 8:00pm, start the bedtime schedule at 7:00pm. This ensures you will have enough time to complete all the steps and your son or daughter will not be rushed.
  4. When creating the bedtime schedule, make sure the activities picked are calming. You do not want to have activities that will make your child hyper and therefore, more awake. The point of the bedtime steps are to help them start to wind down and get ready to sleep.
  5. Once you are finished reading a bedtime story to your child, say your goodnights. Be sure to let your child know that you will be back in a few minutes to make sure they are sleeping. Being aware that you plan to come back may help to ensure they do not try to play quietly with toys or look at books. If your son or daughter is still awake when you come back, tell them goodnight again and let them know you will be back later to check on them.

This routine will most likely take multiple tries, and perhaps even some adjusting of steps, before your child will complete the steps without attempting to prolong the process. Remembering to stay consistent is key, and before you know it your son or daughter will be off in dreamland!

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“Can you check under my bed for monsters?”: DOs and DON’Ts to Help Children Who are Afraid of the Dark

Teeth brushed? Check. Pajamas on? Check. Story read? Check. Tucked in? Check. Search the closets for monsters? Should you or shouldn’t you? Manychild scared in bed children are afraid of the dark, and these fears becomes especially present during bedtime, when they are alone with their thoughts of monsters, ghosts, or other scary creatures that lurk in the dark. Children may also have difficulties differentiating between fantasy and reality, especially if they hear scary stories at school or see monsters on television. Implementing a consistent bedtime routine takes time and energy, and when children are afraid of the dark, this routine can become stressful for everyone involved. As parents, listening to your children’s fears and empathizing with them, creating appropriate accommodations, and empowering your children are ways to help them with their fears.

Do’s and Don’ts to Help Children Who Are Scared of the Dark:

Listen, normalize, and empathize 

DO: Listen to your children’s concerns with an open, warm, nonjudgmental stance. They will be more likely to share their fears with you if they feel supported. Express curiosity about your children’s fears to gain an understanding of where their fears may have come from. This can help you reassure your children. For example, if they saw a show on television that had scary monsters, you can explain that television is pretend and different from real life.

DO: Help your children feel accepted by explaining that everyone has fears, even adults! Reassure your children by explaining that even though people feel afraid sometimes, they can overcome their fears. Children may feel embarrassed or hopeless about their fears; knowing that everyone has fears and that there are steps they can take to overcome them can help children feel reassured and hopeful.

DO: Empathize with your children’s concerns even if their fears are irrational. Let your children know that it is okay to feel scared.

DON’T: Minimize your children’s fears. Saying “You have nothing to be afraid of” or “That is silly! There are no such things as monsters!” can make your children feel embarrassed. Minimizing your children’s fears can also stop them from opening up to you in the future.

DON’T: Reinforce your children’s fears. Checking for ghosts or monsters, for example, shows children that you think they exist too, which can exacerbate their concerns. Instead, check for items that do exist. For example, open a closet and say, “Look! There are clothes and shoes in here, just like in the day” rather than “There are no monsters!”

Create appropriate accommodations

DO: Help your children feel safe at night. Problem solve with them to see what they think will help them feel safe. This process can also help them feel in control and brave. Asking, “What do you think you can do to feel safe at night?” is a great place to start. Appropriate accommodations include listening to a favorite bedtime story, sleeping with a special blanket or stuffed animal, and using a nightlight.

DO: Add these accommodations to your children’s bedtime routines in a consistent way. If children know they can expect a goodnight kiss, a special stuffed animal, and a nightlight every night, they can feel safe and comfortable.

DON’T: Allow your children to sleep in your bed. As tempting as this may be and as much as your children may want to sleep in your bed, showing your children that they can feel safe and sleep in their own beds is very important. Letting your children sleep in your bed can send the message that their fears are legitimate and can, in turn, reinforce and maintain their fears.

Expose and Empower

DON’T: Pressure your children into exposure they are not ready for. Facing their fears without a plan or comfort can make children feel even more afraid.

DO: Help your children overcome their fears by gently exposing them to the dark in a fun way. For example, you can play games in the dark, such as flashlight tag, so your children can associate the dark with an enjoyable game.

DO: Give praise when your children are able to sleep in the dark through the night. In the morning, you can say, “I’m so proud of you! Even though you were scared, you slept by yourself in the dark all night! I know you can do it again tonight.” You can also offer praise at night, by saying, “I like how you are trying to be brave and sleep in your bed. I know you can do it!”

What have you tried to help your children who are afraid of the dark? What has worked? What has not worked? Please share with us!

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Where To Go If Your Child Has Been Misdiagnosed

Parents come to professionals in order to ascertain what is going on with their child.  As a neuropsychologist, the two most common questions I hearmother upset with child are:What is wrong with my child? And How do I fix it?  

A diagnosis will help clarify the symptom characteristics that the child exhibits which in turn will lead to developing the most effective interventions and accommodations for that child within the home, school, and private clinic settings.

Many times parents question the appropriateness of a diagnosis that was given to their child.  It is important to understand that there are several factors that can lead a clinician towards an inappropriate diagnosis or a diagnosis that is not the best fitting based upon the child’s symptom characteristics.

How Assessments Are Conducted:

An evaluation constitutes several hours out of one day of your child’s life.  Many factors impact the child’s performance during the testing, including;

  • Lack of appropriate sleep the night before
  • Being hungry during the evaluation
  • Anxiety over the testing situation

How many of those factors contributed to the diagnosis that was handed to the child?  Second, did the diagnostician receive or ascertain all appropriate information.  Did that individual receive information from the school, past medical records, detailed information regarding the child’s early development?  You are your child’s best advocate.  As much as any diagnostician may know about the responses on the testing, the response to the testing as well as explanations for the testing has to gel with you.  If you are uncomfortable with a diagnosis, ask questions.  Explain to the diagnostician that the behaviors that were observed are not consistent with what is observed on a daily basis.  Work as a team to figure out what lead to the discrepancy between actual behavior and observed behavior/test scores.

If you do not feel that your questions were answered with a diagnosis or are hesitant to follow through with the interventions that were offered, it is then recommended to seek a second opinion.  Oftentimes a second set of eyes, even in the form of reviewing the report/test performance can help solidify the diagnosis that was given or help establish what additional testing/information would be needed.


How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Child

Many parents struggle with issues related to getting their children to sleep and helping them to stay asleep. I have probably been asked the question “How much sleep does my child need?” more than any other question in my career. Parents are frequently more aware of the impact of their child’s sleep onSleepy Child their own functioning when they find themselves awake for the third night or more in a row trying to deal with onset or maintenance insomnia in their little ones. Adults are quick to perceive the daytime fatigue, poor mood and declining cognitive skills in themselves following poor sleep.

Typically, daytime fatigue is a less commonly reported side effect in young children following decrease sleep. More common complaints include hyperactivity, behavioral problems and subtle learning difficulties. In fact, studies have shown consistently that children who sleep one hour or more less than their required total sleep time each night have twice the rates of ADHD, three times the rate language and spatial deficits and significantly lower scores on measures of sustained attention.

Why sleep is critical to kids:

One of the reasons sleep is so critical to the developing brain is that this is a period where many hormones, such as human growth hormone, are released. Disruptions in sleep cycles can lead to inadequate hormone regulation, which has enormous impacts on
development. In addition, REM sleep, which is critical for consolidation of new learning, makes up a higher percentage of total sleep time and deficits in this area can impact learning and school performance. Sleep is not simple a passive, restful process, but rather a period of the lifecycle devoted to ensuring adequate development.

Total amount of sleep children need:

While the individual needs of a child can vary, total sleep time (including naps):

• First year is 13-14 hours per day

• Ages 3-8 require about 10-12 hours

• Adolescence, around 9-10 hours.

In fact, though adolescents experience a “phase shift” (they stay up later and want to sleep in later) during their teens, their need for sleep varies only slightly from younger children and the rates of daytime fatigue due to decreased sleep become more apparent. In fact, in a large scale study, high school students reported the greatest fatigue in classes before 10:00am and their grades in these classes (regardless of the subject) where significantly lower in 55% of the students. In addition, 25% reported falling asleep in class the previous week.

Reasons why your child may be staying up late:

With the increasing data on long-term deficits in cognitive and behavioral performance in young children with inadequate sleep and correlational data of declining grades in sleep deprived teens, one would think that more emphasis would be placed on ensuring healthy sleep habits in children. However, the data suggests otherwise.

• Increased homework

• Demanding parental work schedules

• After-school activities have lead to later nights for many children.

• Conditions such as sleep disordered breathing, some allergy medications, restless limbs

• Poor sleep habits

Most, if not all sleep problems are treatable with good routines and habits, addressing underlying causes of sleep disruption and environmental changes. If your child has problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, arising too early or snoring, please contact a specialist. These are not problems to be ignored or taken lightly.