2 Easy Steps to Put a Child to Bed
Step 1: Putting a child to sleep as a general rule
Step 2: When falling asleep is a problem
Putting children to sleep is not a problem if everything is calm and they are not sick or in a particular phase (e.g., the nightmare phase). It is up to us to invent rituals that suit our needs and those of our kids. Here are a few techniques to put your children to sleep.
Step 1. Putting a child to sleep as a general rule
Establish a ritual.
A regular bedtime is essential for a child: a child needs sleep for proper development. The ritual is also important for the child because it will reassure him, and every child needs to be comforted. You must find your routine and respect it as much as possible.
This pattern should not be heavy for you. Don’t let your child stretch it out; risk it becoming an obstacle course! It can last 5 to 10 minutes.
Sleep is not a punishment!
Sleep must have a positive image in the child’s mind:
It’s not a punishment, wasted time, or a way to get rid of him.
Be careful about your vocabulary when talking about sleep or when it’s time to go to bed. Sleep is, for example, the fabulous time of dreams, the deserved rest of the growing child… find your images.
Prepare your child to be calm.
Before putting a child to bed, the house needs to be quiet. It’s time to turn off the TV, laptops, and tablets or finish playing. If you are anxious or upset, the child will feel it, and falling asleep may be more difficult. You’ll need to regain your composure or hand over. Soft music can make the transition, a story to read, a song to sing… an everyday but calm activity.
Hugs and sweet words are part of the ritual. There is no need to go over the bad things of the day or the wrong behaviors.
The comforter or an object specific to sleep can help the child (like a piece of clothing with the smell of the mother or father).
If the child gets up to ask for a drink, another hug, etc. and demands your attention, don’t give it too much. Do what he/she asks but almost mechanically and without starting a conversation.
2. When falling asleep is a problem
When falling asleep takes a long time, when the child gets up several times when reminders multiply, and when crying is involved, it may be that falling asleep is a problem. Here are some tips to help:
You can stay in a chair a little away from the bed: your presence reassures him, but he knows it is no longer the time to talk, cuddle, etc. Go outside quietly when he is asleep.
When you are near the child, act mechanically. You can also lay him down, and then if he calls, come after a minute and stay for 10 to 15 seconds. On the second call, lengthen the waiting time; you will arrive, for example, after 2 minutes. You will stay 10 to 15 seconds and then leave. On the third call, come to him after 3 minutes, etc. And so on the following days, arriving at a longer and longer waiting time.
Always explain to your child that you need sleep and that you will be calmer and more available if you sleep. The child must know that his parents need to sleep, especially when he calls in the middle of the night.