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Help! My preschooler is refusing to sleep!

by Maxine
Posted December 22 2010 03:49pm
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There are many things that can cause your child to stay awake at bedtime or to wake in the night and stay awake. Some examples are illness, digestive problems, allergies, a move to a new home, or change in child care provider and even anxiety. You may not know it, but your child could be feeling genuinely anxious about being separated from you at bedtime.

The best way to make sure that both you and your child are getting the rest you need is to establish a regular bedtime routine. It should be at the same time every night, with no rough or active play just before bed. A nice bath and bedtime story is a great way to calm your child before going to sleep.

Be gentle but firm about your child staying in bed after being put down. Encourage your child to learn to stay calm by singing and talking quietly to herself, or cuddling with a pillow or stuffed animal. Leave the room with your child awake, so he can learn how to fall asleep on his own. It's also important that while your child is falling asleep, she is not distracted by excessive noise in the home, such as loud television programs, or the sound of older brothers and sisters playing.

It's normal for your child to call out to you in the night, but you don't have to go running right away. Try calling back to him first, just to let him know you've heard the cries and are near by. If your child continues to fuss, go into the room and use your voice and presence to calm him. Instead of picking him up, pat or massage him gently.

And remember, almost every child goes through several phases of testing you to see how late they can stay up. Stay gently firm and consistent. Getting angry doesn't help ease your child into sleep.

 

How did you deal with a preschooler who refused to sleep? Offer your tips to other parents by leaving a comment below or ask an expert your question on this topic.

 

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Building effective communication with your preschooler

by Maxine
Posted August 19 2010 11:09am
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According to our experts, the key to effective communication between you and your preschooler is active listening and providing an appropriate positive response. This may sound simple, but sometimes we forget to use these important skills with our young children.

Here are their suggestions to enhance your communication with your child:

  • Active Listening: when your child is speaking with you make sure you are:
    • Looking at your child (“what you are saying is important,” is your message)
    • Eliminate distractions (music, reading, etc)
    • Don’t interrupt (let your child finish what they are saying)
    • Summarize (what you said is…so and so….did I get it right?)
    • Let you child know that you appreciate them sharing their thoughts or concerns with you. It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but if your child feels you have heard them it gives them a greater sense of connection with you and actually decreases arguments.
  • Providing an appropriate response: Sometime children will say something that upsets us, or we jump to a conclusion, or we provide a consequence to a child for something that they told us they did. These responses teach children not to communicate with us. Instead, thank your child for sharing with you and, if there is an issue, ask the child what they think would help or should be done. Children are usually pretty fair and understand right and wrong, as well as the need to “fix” things. Instead of responding to their confession with, “That was a bad thing you did, so go to your room,” you might say, “Thank you for letting me know about that. I am proud of you for telling me the truth, but now we need to do something about what you did. What do you think would be fair?”
  • Timing: If you child is in the middle of something, (watching a TV show, brushing his teeth, etc.) you should tell him that you would like to talk about something and wait for him to finish. Remember that if you are busy, or you know you have to leave in a minute, you will not be able to be an active listener.
  • Play: One of the best ways to communicate is while a child is playing a game or with a toy where he is also able to talk with you. Colouring, building blocks or puzzles are some examples. As he is enjoying his activity you can ask him about his day, what was interesting, etc.
  • Create routines: Have a “talk time” every day at the same time. You can schedule one early in the morning, at supper or just before bed, whenever you regularly have a bit of quiet time together. For young children this would only be a few minutes, but it becomes a part of their daily life to have time to communicate with you. At supper, for example, you might have each person say one thing that was good about their day and one thing that was not so good.
  • Go on an adventure: Go for a drive in the car, a hike, visit the museum or beach and talk about what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, etc. You can even do this in your imagination and pretend you are flying in a plane and talk about what you are seeing or doing.
  • Read: Reading books to each other and talking about the story afterward is a wonderful and easy way to foster communication with your child. You can do this with TV shows or movies as well. Ask your child what they think about things that are happening. “What do you think he is feeling right now?” Why do you think she did that?” “How would you feel if they did that to you?” If you are watching a show together don’t have the communication get in the way of your child following the story. If that is happening wait and talk about it once the show is over.

Keep in mind that even if you do all these things, your child may still not want to talk with you. Pressuring children to talk will usually make them clam up even more. Talking about things that your child is interested in will help, but sometimes the key is to wait until you child initiates a discussion. When this happens make sure you are using your active listening skills.

 

Do you have questions about communicating with your preschooler? Ask one of our experts!

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Coping with and Preventing Night Terrors

by Maxine
Posted September 5 2011 03:10pm
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If your child is thrashing and screaming in the night, but when you go to him he seems awake, but isn’t, he might be experiencing night terrors. These are different and more serious than nightmares.

Night terrors happen when your child is in a deep sleep. His eyes might be open and he may be thrashing around or showing extreme fear, but he is not awake. This can go on for just a few minutes or for up to an hour. He won’t recognize or know who you are while this is happening.

"Night terrors can be really scary for parents," says Karon Foster, a Registered Nurse and Parenting Expert, "when your child is terrified and doesn’t seem to know who you are it can be difficult to know what to do."

Our experts suggest that, while it may be your first instinct, you shouldn’t try to wake your child. He may seem very agitated and upset, but it is better to watch and make sure he is safe and doesn’t fall out of bed.

If he does wake up, comfort and reassure him that everything will be all right and that you’re there and he’s safe. Stay with him until he falls back to sleep. Try rubbing his back or singing softly to comfort him. Often children who have night terrors will fall asleep more quickly afterwards than a child who has had a nightmare. He will probably not even remember having had the night terror.

While nightmares are often caused by emotional stress or by things like scary stories or violent TV, night terrors are thought to have a biological basis – they may even run in families. They can also be caused by a change in sleep routines, overtiredness and fatigue, fever and even certain medications. They are most common between the ages of three and five and most children will outgrow them.

Night terrors usually happen at about the same time each night, a few hours after falling asleep, so some doctors suggest scheduled wakings. Keep track of when the terrors occur to establish the time and then wake your child about 15-30 minutes prior to the usual time when a night terror occurs. Talk to him and try to keep him awake for five minutes or more before letting him go back to sleep. This strategy may need to be continued for about a month. This can help prevent the night terrors. Try to insure that you child is getting enough sleep, and is not becoming fatigued or overtired.

Be sure to talk to your health care provider if your child is having night terrors and especially if your child experiences drooling, jerking or stiffening during the terrors or if they occur more than twice in a week.

Click here for more information on nightmares and night terrors

Did your child experience night terrors? What did you do? Share your experience with other parents by leaving a comment below.

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When your child doesn’t get his chores done

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 10:14pm
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Doing chores can help your child learn to organize time, handle responsibility, set goals and learn various other skills. But that doesn't mean your child will want to do them - sometimes it's going to be a chore to get your child to do chores.

To make things easier on both of you, give your child a reasonable time in which to do the chores. Give him complete freedom to finish the chores, on his own, by the deadline. Avoid nagging your child to do them.

If the chores are not done by the deadline, don't do them yourself. If you do, you give the message: "You don't really have to do your chores unless you want to because, if you don't, good old mom - or dad - will do them for you!" If a chore has to be done again because it wasn't done properly, it is up to you to patiently and gently insist your child take the time to do it properly.

Remember, it takes all of the preschool years, and then some, for children to assume responsibility for chores without reminders. Just ask parents of teens! But do start early.

What kinds of chores do you have you preschooler do? Is it a battle to get them to do them? Share your thoughts below by leaving a comment!

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