sleeping_on_shoulderHopefully your child is going to bed without any problems and staying asleep all night. However, even if they are, it will not be every night.

All children this age have some sleep disturbance at some time. In addition, some children will still be having difficulty on a regular basis. Here are some common problems with preschoolers and sleep. If you are having difficulties with sleep, consult your pediatrician for further advice and guidance.

Your bed or theirs?
By age three, even if you have chosen up to now to follow the philosophy of the “family bed”, it is a good time for your child to be taught how to sleep by himself in his own bed. As hard as it can be for many parents, your child will be happier and healthier if you can do this. Even if you wish to have your child sleep in the same room for a bit more, sleeping in the parental bed after age five may not be healthy for psychosexual development.

Bedtime routines
Bedtime routines will help your preschooler to go to sleep. Make sure you have a regular and calming routine before a child’s bedtime A routine can consist of the reading of a favorite story after the bath, kissing all the stuffed animals, or singing a special song. This will become the signal for your child that bedtime has arrived and will also provide a transitional period during which he or she can prepare for the separation that sleep brings. It also gives preschoolers some control of the situation since the ritual must be completed before they will go to bed.

Can’t go to sleep without you

Your preschooler may insist that you be present while he falls asleep. While some respect for his separation anxiety is needed, you can still gently tell him that you understand how hard it is, but you will help him to do this on his own. After the bedtime routine simply say, “It’s time for sleep now” Give a big hug and kiss and then leave him in his bed. If he gets up again, simply walk him back to his bed and repeat the same phrase. You may have to do this many times, but make it boring without a lot of extra hugs and kisses. After awhile he will know you mean business. This method works well with most children. Another technique is to challenge your child to stay in bed until you check on him or her. They will feel proud of themselves if they can do it. Check on them at 5-10 minute intervals gradually increasing the time between checks.