How to Get Your Kid to Sleep in Their Own Bed

Bedtime can be a stressful time of the day for both children and their parents. Getting your child to sleep in their own bed at night can be quite the challenge. Figuring out what works best for you and your child can be exhausting and may require a trial-and-error process. Sleep Blog

If you are searching for ideas to help your child sleep in their own bed at night, you may be interested in exploring some of the options below:

Bedtime routine

  • A bedtime routine is extremely important if you are having a difficult time getting your child to stay in their own bed. It may be helpful to have them take a warm bath, put on their pajamas, brush their teeth and pick out a book, as well as a stuffed animal to sleep with before getting into bed. Establishing a before-bed routine will reduce your child’s stress levels and assist with falling asleep, staying asleep throughout the night and waking up feeling refreshed. Many children benefit from a visual schedule, so that they can follow a step-by-step picture sequence of their routine.
  • During the hour or so before bed, make sure your child engages in calming activities. Activities that are alerting or stressful for your child can make the transition into bedtime more difficult. Examples of calming activities may include guided meditation, listening to calming music, yoga, drawing or reading a book.
  • Keep in mind that consistency is key! It is important to establish a routine and stick with it, even if you may not be noticing immediate results.

Gradual transition

  • Be sure to give your child ample warning time before bedtime approaches. Moreover, do not suddenly tell your child that it is time for bed while they are in the middle of their favorite activity. It is beneficial to give them a reminder that bedtime is approaching, roughly an hour before they should be asleep, with consistent warnings until it is time to go to sleep. If your child has not yet mastered the concept of time, using a timer can assist with this.

Bedtime fading

  • Another option is a concept called “bedtime fading.” This is putting your child to sleep somewhat later than their usual bedtime, so that they are more tired and fall asleep faster. After doing this for a few days, you can gradually shorten the time down closer to their actual bedtime. For example, if bedtime is typically 8 p.m., put your child to bed at 8:30 for a few days. Then 8:15 and so forth, until you get back down to 8. This allows them to gradually learn to fall asleep alone, especially if they prefer to have a parent with them in the room in order to fall asleep.
  • Your child may also benefit from keeping their bedroom door open. A child may feel better falling asleep on their own if the door is open at least halfway. If they do not stay in their bed, the door gets closed. You can also try using a nightlight to increase their level of comfort while they are trying to fall asleep.
  • Gradually moving yourself out of the room may also be beneficial. Explain to your child that you will stay on the floor next to them until they fall asleep. The following night on a chair nearby, etc. After a few days, the goal will be to phase yourself out of their room.

Reward system

  • A reward system works well for many children, especially during bedtime. If your child lays in their own bed without coming out, they can earn a breakfast treat or pick a prize out of a bin of options such as stickers or toys of your choice. You can even place that reward on a shelf in their room, so they know it is there for them in the morning. If your child comes out of bed throughout the night, they do not receive a reward; however, can try again the next night. It is best not to bring too much attention to the fact that they were unable to achieve the reward and focus more on earning it for the following day.

Re-direction

  • The first time your child gets up from their bed, take them by their hand, walk them back to bed and calmly state that it is bedtime and they need to go to sleep. The second time, do the same thing but just say the word “bedtime.” If it happens again, say nothing and silently walk your child back to bed. The less talking, the better, as to bring less attention to the situation.

Praise your child

  • Saying your final “goodnight” should be brief. You may want to discuss how your child’s day went and what will take place tomorrow. Praising your child for something he or she did during the day that you were proud of them for will help them to fall asleep on a positive note.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonDeerfieldLincolnwoodGlenviewLake BluffDes PlainesHinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Meet-With-An-Occupational-Therapist

Pros and Cons of Fidget Spinners for Kids

If you have children I am sure that you have come in contact with the latest social craze. Fidget spinners. In the past several months there have been Pokémon GO, Minecraft, Roblox, and even YouTube. Like all of these fads, there are positives and negatives for children to using fidget spinners. Blog-Fidget Spinners-proscons-Main-Landscape-01

Pros of fidget spinners:

  1. Good social activity – Children often like to be a part of something that is going on. Having children partake in this healthy activity will help form bonds with other children and be topics of positive communication.
  2. Helps stay focused – Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD or other cognitive impairments are more successful in an activity or assignment if they are able to control their body and movements. One way of accomplishing this is to provide a fidget or other object so their body can get the needed stimulus without them having to leave the classroom or activity.
  3. Helps children get input they otherwise wouldn’t – Similar to play therapy, where a child is engaged in an activity to help them process events that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, children who use fidget toys are able to get the sensory input they need to help them be successful. Because this sensory input is so important and can come from fidget spinners, we recently published another blog: Fidget Tools: The Bottom Line. In that blog, you will read about the importance of self-regulation when it comes to learning and why a fidget spinner may be necessary for certain children in class.

Cons of fidget spinners:

  1. Not all children are the same – Not all children require the same amount of sensory input to be successful. For the children who do not need it, the fidget toys becomes just a toy and distraction.
  2. Schools are banning them – Because they are becoming a distraction, many schools have been banning them causing students to find other ways to hide them or get around the rules. This can be even more distracting to the child in turn causing the child not to focus or learn in school.
  3. All in moderation – Similar to the other latest fads, when not used properly they do not function in the same manner. When children over use the fidget or do not use it for the intended purpose it just becomes the latest and greatest toy.

If you or your child are wanting to purchase a fidget spinner think about the reasons behind the purchase and decided if this spinner can be beneficial to the child’s learning or will just be a toy they are bringing to class.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

Social Work

A Better Bedtime

Tips For A Better Bedtime

Bedtime can be a challenging time of the day for both parents and children. Specialists agree that children need steps each night that are predictable to help them transition into sleep. Nighttime routines ease the transition by making your child feel comfortable about what to expect at the end of each day. By setting a routine, parents can allow their children to respond to cues that will help them move from playtime to bedtime more smoothly. Setting a plan can help make evenings less stressful, for everyone!

Time to Wind Down

Routines for bedtime begin in the evening before your child’s head even touches the pillow. It is suggested that transitions to sleep are more difficult if the activities leading up to bedtime are high energy, such as running around or even watching TV shows or movies that are high action. Begin to lower your child’s activity level and prepare for relaxation through quiet play.

Create the Bedtime Plan

The idea is to have a bedtime routine that works best for your child. This routine will set the foundationbetter-bedtime of events that you and your child can consistently follow in the same order each evening. As your child grows, the actual routine is likely to change, but the basics will remain the same.

There is not one routine that is going to work for all children and families. Bedtime routines should be a combination of what is practical and personally preferred. So parents, keep this in mind and decide what is going to be best suited for your child. What matters most is that the routine is consistent.

Depending on your child’s age, verbal cues and reminders of steps might not be beneficial. The use of visual charts or checklists are suggested so children can see what is coming next. The process of creating a routine can be interactive and can provide an opportunity for your child to be involved in “owning” his/her bedtime. This also helps to instill a sense of responsibility in your child. The intention is that as children grow, they will be able to go through the checklist with less and less facilitation and be able to complete the bedtime routine on their own.

Again, there is not a one size fits all routine! Below are some suggestions of options to consider in the creation of your child’s bedtime routine.

Activities to Consider in a Bedtime Routine:

  • Cleaning up: Have your child put away toys or help clean up play areas from the day. This can help signal and provide a cue that playtime is over.
  • Snack: Depending on dinnertime or what parent’s prefer, a light snack and drink before bed can help satisfy nightly hunger.
  • Preparation for tomorrow: Part of the routine could include preparing for the next day. This could be setting out lunch box, picking out clothes, or gathering school materials. (This makes the morning run a little smoother too-BONUS!)
  • Bath time: A warm bath helps regulate your child’s temperature and can help signal relaxation to induce sleepiness.
  • Brushing Teeth: This is important for your child’s hygiene and can be another step in the ending the day process.
  • Pajamas: Having your child pick out the pajamas for the each night can be fun activity. However, parents should try to limit their child’s pajama options to two or three choices so that it does not become a daunting task.
  • Picking out books: Let your child choose a book or two, again establish the number of books they can choose so you can avoid the “ one more book please.”
  • Reading: Reading of books should be done in the child’s sleep environment
  • Bedtime yoga: There are benefits to nightly yoga for children. These relaxation stretches and movements help your child’s body wind down.
  • Quiet music: Music can be played while the child is going through other steps or can be played quietly as the child drifts off into sleep. Some children have difficulty falling asleep if it is too silent, quiet music can be a great way to provide some background noise and it is suggested that the music have no lyrics.
  • Picking favorite stuffed animal or doll: Your child may have a favorite teddy bear or doll they prefer, this can be comforting to have when falling asleep.

If parents take turns with bedtimes, they should have a similar style as to continue with the routine. While this does not mean parents need to follow identical scripts, response styles should be similar.  If you have more than one child, it is suggested that bedtimes be staggered in time. This way, each child can benefit from a calming story or goodnight cuddle. It might also be a good idea for parents to switch off in their roles in the bedtime routine, that way each parent will get some alone-time with each child before the day is over. Once in bed, keep the lights low. Saying “goodnight” should be short and could include talking about how the day went or what is going on tomorrow. Telling your child something he or she did during the day that you were pleased with will help to send your child off to sleep on a positive note!

Click here to learn about sleep disorders in children.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

yoga for a better bedtime

Yoga For A Better Bedtime

Today’s guest blog by Erin Haddock, owner of Five Keys Yoga, explains how to have a better bedtime with your children using yoga.

During a busy school year, sleep routines become of utmost importance in keeping energy levels and mood balanced in both kids and adults.  Yoga is renowned for its ability to relax the body and the mind.  As a Yoga Therapist, I have seen many people start practicing yoga and improve their sleep.  As yoga is a tool that can benefit both kids and parents alike, it is important that parents practice these exercises with their child.  This builds a relaxing connection and gives the child a yogic role model.

Yoga Moves for a Better Bedtime:

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a very popular recommendation, for good reason.  Deep, slow breaths trigger theYoga For A Better Bedtime relaxation response and slow our heart rate.  The mind is connected to the body through the breath, so deep breaths also keep the mind calm and content.  My favorite deep breathing exercise for kids is to have them imagine that there is a balloon inside their body.  When they breathe in, they fill the balloon and when they breathe out, the balloon empties.  After getting comfortable with this image, ask them to slowly fill the balloon in three smaller breaths.  Breath one fills the belly, breath two fills the chest, breath three fills the balloon all the way up, and then slowly let the air out of the balloon.  Repeat this breath at least two times, working up to ten or more repetitions.

Gentle Stretches

Stretching is a great way to release tension that has accumulated in the body over the day and prepare it for sleep.  Certain yoga poses energize the system and others relax it, so it is important to keep a before bed yoga practice slow, to allow the mind to unwind.  Forward bends are particularly helpful, as they stimulate the vagus nerve – a deep nerve that induces the relaxation response through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.  A simple sequence I like to practice before bed includes:

  1. Reach to the stars: Start by standing with your child, relaxed but tall.  Reach your arms overhead so that your palms face inward, toward one another.  Start by reaching your right arm a little higher than the left, keeping both feet rooted to the floor.  Reach as high as you can for the stars, then relax your right arm, so that both arms are overhead, facing inward again.  Now reach your left arm high to try and touch a star, then relax.  Repeat this once more with each arm and then relax your arms down by your sides.  When your breathing has returned to normal, reach both arms up again.  Try to touch the stars with both arms at once and then reach your arms forward and down, to touch your toes.  It is a good idea to bend your knees slightly, especially if you feel any pain in your back.
  2. Gentle Twist: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.  You can sit on a blanket or cushion if this is uncomfortable.  Sit up tall but relaxed and breathe in.  As you exhale, bring your left hand to your right knee and your right hand on the floor next to you, as you twist your belly and chest to the right, gently looking right or closing your eyes.  As you breathe in, instruct your child to imagine all the positive things that will happen tomorrow entering his or her body.  As you breathe out, imagine all the less than positive things that happened today leave her or his body.  Breathe like this a few times.  Inhale to bring your body back to center and then repeat on the other side.
  3. Child’s Pose: Child’s pose can be a very soothing pose, allowing us to draw our attention inward.  Kneeling, bring your toes together, as you sit your bum on your heels.  Lean forward and release your torso over your thighs, relaxing your head to the floor and arms down by the side of your body with your palms facing up.  If this feels claustrophobic, move your arms overhead, with your elbows on the floor.  Feel your breath as it moves your back and the sides of your body.
  4. Legs Up the Wall: This pose can be practiced in the sequence above or on its own.  Putting your legs up the wall is very relaxing and feels great!  Make sure that your bum is near enough to the wall, so you feel no strain in your back or legs.  Bending the knees slightly can further relax the body.  You may also try placing a folded blanket or small pillow under your bum and low-back or under your head and neck.  Try to make your body as comfortable as possible.  Focus on slow, deep breaths moving the belly.  Stay here for 30 seconds or longer.  Lie flat on the floor for a few breaths before standing up.

Click here to learn more about Five Keys Yoga.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

5 tips to get your child with autism to sleep

5 Helpful Hints to Get Your Child with Autism to Sleep

Children with developmental disabilities and autism are at greater risk of sleep problems (40-80% in comparison to 20% of children without developmental disabilities).  Problems can include all aspects of the sleep process, including trouble falling asleep when needed, waking frequently throughout the night, and waking early in the morning hours.  Given what we know about how sleep impacts our attention, emotional regulation, and socialization, it is that much more imperative that we help our children with developmental disabilities be well rested.

Why do children with developmental disabilities have more problems with sleep?

While speculative at this time, evidence thus far points to the following explanations:5 tips to get your child with autism to sleep

  1. Biological: Children with developmental disabilities show higher rates of circadian rhythm disturbance and lowered levels of melatonin.
  2. Social: children with developmental disabilities struggle with interpreting social cues, including those cues that indicate inform bedtime.
  3. Sensory: children with developmental disabilities exhibit disturbances in sensory processing. Because of this, minor bodily complaints, noise, light, and tactile input can disrupt a good night’s sleep.

If your child with autism or other developmental disabilities struggles to sleep well, the following strategies can help:

  1. Keep a sleep diary to recognize patterns in your child’s sleep. You may discover a precipitating cause or consistent trend causing the difficulties.
  2. Create a visual schedule of the bedtime routine. Knowing the routine and consistently following it can help the child prepare for bedtime.
  3. Have the child engage in calming activities one hour prior to bedtime. Screen time is prohibited due to its stimulating effects and interference with melatonin production.
  4. Provide the necessary sensory input that your child needs. They may require a weighted blanket for deep pressure, sound machine to drown out extraneous noises, or dim lights prior to bedtime to cue the child that sleep is approaching.
  5. Melatonin supplement use has been shown to be helpful in children with developmental disabilities but should always be discussed with your pediatrician and approved by them before beginning any regimen.

Read more about sleep disorders in children here.

Need help with getting your child with autism to sleep? Contact one of our sleep expert specialists.

 

Child having trouble sleeping

Tips To Keep Your Toddler In Bed

Tired of your sleepless nights? Feeling fed up with the nighttime battles that ensue when your child perpetually engages you in a game of “ping pong” as they bounce from their bed, to your bed, back to their bed? Try these simple tips to keep your child in their own bed:

Identify the reasons why they are sneaking away

At a non-triggerChild having trouble sleepinging time – either during the daytime or prior to the bedtime routine – ask your child what function their escape serves. Uncovering the reasons perpetuating this routine will provide you with the information necessary to create more adaptive and positive coping skills. For example, if your child is afraid of the dark and/or of
monsters under their bed, schedule in a “search party” as part of the bedtime routine. In between brushing teeth, putting on jammies, and reading stories search the “scary areas” with your child in the light to eradicate any irrational fear that may be causing them to flee the room. If your child should awaken in the middle of the night, they can engage in positive, coping self-talk to keep them in their room (“It’s ok, there are no monsters because mom and I already checked”).

Readjust the bedtime expectation

If a standard has been set in which the child knows he will be invited into his parents bedroom, create a new standard for expectation. Creating a motivational incentive program can help your child evaluate their choices and motivate them to implement compliant behaviors in the face of being rewarded.  Sit your child down and have a conversation about the importance of sleeping independently and that this is the new expectation for the household. Arrange a variety of rewards that you have pre-approved and that you know the child would like so that they can invest in this new mode of behavior. For every successful night, they can earn a token or sticker to then cash in for a greater prize at the end of the week.

Be consistent

For the reward and the overall change in behavior to work, you need to be consistent. Create a routine that you and your spouse feel comfortable with if and when your child awakens in the night. This has to occur every time your escape artist tries to crawl into your bed. Some tips for this redirection:

– ALWAYS send them back to their room. You can be sympathetic to your child’s needs, fears, and concerns, but walk them back to their room. Sit with them for a few minutes until they fall back to sleep. Then you can leave. Repeat as needed.

– If your child is adamant that they cannot sleep, provide them with a nightlight (if they fear the dark), a book if you trust they will not stay up all night reading, and the opportunity to listen to calming music either on an iPad or sound machine to calm them down and distract their negative thinking.

Get creative about what will keep your child in their room, discuss with your spouse what you will and will not tolerate as far as admittance into the parent bed, and be consistent about whatever expectations you set.





Child scared of the dark

How To Deal With Nighttime Anxiety

Try these steps to reduce nighttime anxiety and improve compliance with evening time routine.

At the end of a long and exhausting day, how do you effectively transition your kids from the stimulation of the day to the peace and quiet of the night? Now, combine that tall order with nighttime anxiety. It would appear as though this would be more difficult, but there are simple strategies to integrate into the nighttime routine to reduce anxiety and increase overall compliance with this tricky transition.

1. During non-triggering times, talk with your child about what causes them to feel nervous or anxious with regards to bedtime. Are they afraid of the dark? A monster under their bed? A zombie in the closet? Identify with them what they are afraid of and then problem-solve with them ways to reduce their fear. If they are afraid of the dark, offer to keep their door open with a hall light on in addition to a nightlight. If they are spooked out about creatures living in their room, add an additional step before lights out to go through their room with them and search for these alleged monsters. When they see they are non-existent prior to bedtime and with support of their parent, they can feel more at ease going to sleep. Set up a plan with your child to eradicate irrational thoughts to facilitate more restful nights.

2. Begin the transition to bed earlier. If it takes a long time for your child to “unplug” and transition to bed, starting earlier can be helpful – even if it is just a conversation about starting the routine soon. If a child has anxiety about nighttime, the more advanced preparation and warning they have, the better. They can begin their thought-process and, in turn, anxiety-reduction process sooner to aid in a smoother transition. Create positive, self-coping talk that you can model for your child about bedtime such as “Sleep is important because it recharges us for the day,” or, “Bedtime is a chance for us to reflect on our high points from the day and set positive goals for the next day,” and, “Everybody sleeps.”

3. Integrate the use of a “worry doll” or “worry journal” that the child can externalize their fears and worries prior to bed to reduce rumination of irrational thoughts or fears. The worry doll can be a doll or figure that can hold the child’s worries while they are asleep. The child can tell the doll what it is worried about and clear their mind before bed. This can also present an opportunity for the parent to listen and hear what is concerning the child. If it is not appropriate for the child to have a doll (i.e. older child or male), encourage the use of a worry journal to either draw or write out concerns prior to bed. The journal will house the worries so the child can clear their mind and focus on positive, coping self-talk prior to bed.





The Sleep Discrepancy: How Much Sleep We Need and What We Actually Get

Sleep is incredibly vital to our everyday health.  The questions of why we sleep and in the manner we do (consolidated to approximately eight hours) has been accumulating and theories surround its “cleansing” and “restoring” properties have been coming to light.

Theories on Why We Sleep:

One theory suggests that sleep helps to clear our brains of unwanted toxins (Xie, L., Kang, H., Xu, Q., Chen, M., Liao, Y., Thiyagarajan, M., O’Donnell, J., Christensen, D.J., Nicholson, C., Iliff, J.J., Takano, T., Deane, R., & Nedergaard, M., 2013).

An additional theory hypothesizes that our brains have a limited capacity based on a 24-cycle which can only be restored through sleep (Nauert, 2010).  So, if we fall short an hour or two every night, you can imagine the cumulative effect on our cognitive functioning!

Why Are We Sleeping Less Than Before?

Nonetheless, the fact remains that we are all getting fewer hours of sleep than in generations before. Why?  Reasons can be explained by our longer work days that often continue well beyond the time we arrive home, easy access to distracting (albeit entertaining) modes of technology, more events and activities to attend, and an increasing academic workload for junior high and high school students, to name a few.

How Much Sleep Do We Really Need and How Much Are We Actually Getting?

In the school years (6-12), the recommended duration of sleep is between 11 to 12 hours.  Yet the incidence of sleep problems may be as common as 30-40% in children at any one time (Fricke-Oerkermann, L., Pluck, J., Schredl, M., Heinz, K., Mitschke, A., Wiater, A., & Lehmkuhl, G., 2007).  While likely to be transient and not in need of professional care, when the problem is persistent and clearly interferes with the child’s functioning, intervention is warranted.  It is best to begin with your pediatrician who can determine whether Melatonin (an over-the-counter supplement with sleep-enhancing properties), cognitive-behavior therapy, and/or a sleep study to rule-out medical conditions are warranted.

What About Teens and Sleep?

As I have mentioned in my previous blog: Teens and Sleep-How Technology Plays a Role in Restless Nights, adolescents are notorious for their poor sleeping habits and insufficient sleep.  While it is recommended that teens get 9 to 9.25 hours of sleep per night, the reality is closer to 7 hours on weekdays and 8.5 hours on weekends.  Clearly, these teens are not “catching up” on non-school days, creating an ever-increasing cumulative deficiency.  If you suspect that your teen is struggling with optimal sleep and is being negatively impacted as a result, first consider whether environmental factors (e.g., late-night cell phone use, late-night homework and study sessions, overscheduled nighttime activities, etc.) may be contributing and could be adjusted to make sleep a priority.  When this is not successful, recommendations are similar to those for school-age children and include speaking with your pediatrician about effective treatment options (Melatonin or other sleep-enhancing agents, cognitive-behavior therapy, and/or a sleep study to rule-out medical conditions).

To Summarize:

The fact is that our society is one that values hard work, grueling academic schedules, and an abundance of extra-curricular activities, which ultimately end up harming us when it comes to sleep.  It is time for the focus to be placed on sleep once again so that we are in a position to raise healthy adults who will pass on this wisdom.

Need help getting your family’s sleep on track?  Meet with our sleep specialist.

Teens and Sleep: How Technology is Playing a Role in Restless Nights

We are all familiar with the marked increase in media usage and availability over the last 10 years.  From televisions and computers to cell phones, iPads, and hand-held videogame devices, we all use technology.  All the time.

While we cannot argue with the convenience of these technologies, not to mention their entertainment value, there is a downside when it comes to our sleep.  In the sleep world, we call these devices “sleep stealers” because, as their name implies, time spent using these devices at night robs us of the optimal duration of sleep we really need.

Teens are frequently the subject of studies on this topic.  Likely because not only is a great deal of their lives are spent socializing but, let’s be honest, teens hate to go to bed early.  And, to some extent, rightfully so. There is an actual phenomenon of the sleep-wake cycle shifting in adolescence toward a later sleep time.

How Does Technology Use Affect Teen’s Sleep?

But nighttime technology use only adds to the struggle to get teens sufficient rest.  Recent studies revealed that 20% of teens are texting and 17% are making calls between 12am-3am.  20% are awoken in the middle of the night from an incoming text at some time, 9% several times per week, and 3% every night (van den Bulck, 2003, 2007).  If you add up the hours of lost sleep over the week, the result is staggering!

Aside from the obvious outcome of delaying sleep onset, what are the other effects?  Evidence shows that excessive nighttime technology use (>2 hours) can lead to increased arousal (cognitive and physiological), circadian rhythm disruption due to bright light, and decreased total sleep time (Cain & Cradisar, 2010).

So, what can you do to help your teen get the sleep they need?

  • Make it a house rule for everyone to put their technology in a designated place outside of the bedroom (e.g., the kitchen counter) prior to bedtime.  If children see that their parents are willing to adopt this practice, they may be more accepting of the routine.
  • If excessive nighttime technology is a problem and your teen is reluctant to give it up, pick an alternative nightly activity that can be done as a family, such as playing games, talking about the day, reading, etc.
  • Some teens and adults do need the television to fall asleep.  While I would not recommend someone starting this, it can be a difficult habit to break.  If this is the case, it is best to set a timer on the TV to automatically turn off after 30 minutes.  This will prevent night-time awakenings from noise and light.
  • Talk about the importance of sleep and make it a priority for the whole family.  If teens are aware of the negative impact that lack of sleep can have on their functioning (decreased attention, increased emotionality, weight control problems, etc.), they may be more motivated to make a change.

Read here for more strategies to help your teen make good decisions.

The Quest to End Bedwetting

Do you feel frustrated, helpless, and out of options when it comes to your child’s continuous bedwetting? Do you feel like you have tried every intervention without resolve?

Try these 4 tips for a happy and dry night:

1. Check in with your own emotions.

Bed-wetting

Your child’s bedwetting is an event that occurs while your child is asleep. He is not purposefully trying to defy your instruction and make you upset.  Bedwetting is an act that happens while he is unaware. Know that he is struggling with this as much as you are. To help you manage your emotions around bedwetting, do the following:

  • Plan ahead your response so you can handle whatever situation may lie in front of you.
  • Prepare a standard response for when your child has had an accident and a response for when he is clean.
  • Keep realistic expectations as well; just because your child stayed dry one night doesn’t mean this will be the new standard.
  • Prepare for the worst and be excited by his successes.

If your child wakes up and you notice he had an accident, you will be prepared for how to proceed in a more objective and a less emotionally reactive way.

2. Use a Motivational Incentive Chart.

Encourage your child to increase dry nights by motivating him with positive reinforcement (i.e. treats, rewards, extra privileges). Create a weekly chart that can document dry nights with a sticker or special decal. For every dry night, the child gets the sticker. If the child earns all 5 stickers for the week, or all 7 depending on what the individual family goals are, the child will receive a reward. These do not have to break the bank. Something simple, like allowing the child to choose the family meal over the weekend, earning a date with mom or dad, choosing a special restaurant to eat at, or being able to sit in the special spot on the couch during family movie night can all increase investment in the child to work towards dry nights.

3. Use Bedwetting Alarms.

These alarms allow for the child to develop an autonomous response to getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. A special moisture sensor is placed in the child’s pajamas and the first indication of urine will cause an alarm to go off to trigger the child to awaken and go to the bathroom. Initially, it might take a while for the child to automatically respond to this alarm system, so the parent might have to be a part of this process to awaken the child and assist him in going to the bathroom. This process may take several weeks to achieve desired success (child awakening on the own to go to the bathroom), so set your expectations accordingly.

4. Set times to taper liquids and for urination prior to bed.

Keeping a structured nighttime routine also enhances predictability and success for staying dry. Encourage your child to go to the bathroom before bedtime. If this is around the same time every night, it will feel like less of a chore and more of a part of the routine, just like brushing teeth. Don’t limit all liquids prior to bed time, as your child may be thirsty, but provide a small glass of water. Be proactive. Encourage more drinking throughout the day and at dinnertime, provide the whole family with a small glass of water. This will model uniform behavior throughout the household and the child will not feel left out or different than others. Additionally, work towards limited caffeine intake, as this increases urine production.

Bedwetting is frustrating for all family members.  Remember to keep your patience with your child.  He will reach this important milestone in his own time.

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