“Sleep Training” Facts About Older Children
There are moments in motherhood that are no one’s favorite. Moments that come every day that a mom dreads. It could be a milestone, like potty training, but it could also be brief moments each day. Mom might dread getting her kids up and getting ready for the day, she might dread mealtimes, when she’s dealing with a picky eater. She may also dread bedtime. It can be a struggle not only to get some kids to go to bed, but also to stay in bed.
Maybe mom has such a hard time with her older kids that she thinks she should try some kind of sleep training. However, sleep training, in its simplest definition, is something only done with babies. It is made to make babies sleep longer at night and end up sleeping through the night. Mom may wonder if she can even put her older children to sleep or if she missed her opportunity.
Although it’s not that common, it’s possible that an older child can be sleep trained, but we need to take a deeper look at what sleep training is, why some children have trouble at night, and which methods will work (because they are going to be different from those used with infants).
What is sleep training?
Let’s go back to the beginning and discuss what sleep training is basically. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep training involves methods for your child to “soothe themselves.” It’s the idea that when they wake up during the night, or when they initially go to bed, they are able to regulate their needs and emotions and fall asleep on their own.
We all wake up at night, but most of us don’t remember it because we go back to sleep; however, infants and children may have difficulty falling back to sleep, which can lead to a child being “up all night”.
Why can’t a child just sleep?
Whereas it can be easy to look at a child and see how busy they are and wonder why they find it so hard to fall asleep at night because they must be so exhausted. It’s not always that easy and there are many reasons why a child may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night.
According to O’Grady Well Being, some children are afraid to sleep alone, and sleep training may be necessary if a mother wants to move her child from her bed to her own bed. It can be a scary experience for a child who has slept in their parent’s bed until now.
As children get older, they also begin to work their imaginations, and it can run wild at night. It can cause them to be scared and it can be triggered by something they saw on TV or even a book they read at school. It doesn’t have to be about a monster, it could be a story about a boy who lost his mother for a while.
All of these issues can lead to a child not staying asleep in their own bed. Children can also suffer from certain mental health problemsand if mom is ever worried that this is what is happening with her child, she should talk to a medical professional.
Methods to try
Now, since we know it’s possible to train an older child to sleep, we’ll go over some of the possible methods mom can try. It might take some time to find the right one for you, but these are good starting points.
When mom had a baby, she was always told never to keep a baby up late in the hope that he would sleep. It almost never works, and the baby may be too tired to fall asleep as easily as she hopes.
According to parents, this may work with an older child. Bedtime erasing happens when you push bedtime back a bit and gradually back up until your child is in bed when you want them to be.. Maybe the first night you let them stay up an hour past bedtime, and the next night 45 minutes, etc.
This method can ensure that your child is exhausted and more likely to want to fall asleep and go there of their own free will without hassle or struggle.
According to Pure Wow, this is a great method for parents who are a little nervous about sleep training their older children. The principle of this method is that you get your child used to sleeping without you, but you start slowly and progress.
On the first night, mom will start in the bedroom with her, and after a while she will tell her child that she will just “take a break” and leave for a minute. When she returns, she wants to praise her child; and don’t be afraid to do it all.
The next night mom will take a 2 minute “break” and repeat everything again. This “break” will gradually increase, and mom will notice during a break that she reverts to a sleeping child.
General presentation and tips
If Mom is looking for general advice she can use to help her, we have some. According to Update, it’s important to have a set bedtime routine. This routine will help your child understand that it’s time to go to bed and help him relax. It’s also important not to be afraid to use positive reinforcement. This may seem like taking you back to your potty training days, but it can work with older kids.
For every night they spend in their own bed, they get a stick on a calendar. When they hit 5 stickers, maybe mommy takes them for an ice cream. Mom can set the guidelines and rewards she wants to implement based on her family.
The important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to establish healthy sleeping habits, it may take a little patience and a lot of love, but they will get there.
Sources: Sleep Foundation, O’Grady Well Being, Parents, Pure Wow, Up to date