Bedtime … Just those four little words have already put you in the mood, I’m sure … What to do when my child doesn’t want to sleep?
The story of an end of the day like any other: on the way to bed our children
6:45 pm: the key in the door, I can already hear “Mum!” Youhouhou !!! “. It is the joy to meet again. We say goodbye to the babysitter and the party begins. At the same time as I put on some music, I reheat the dish that I had fortunately already prepared and an hour after dinner is over. I have 30 minutes left to put them in their pajamas, brush my teeth, pee, have a story and go to bed. With a little luck, we, the parents, will be able to start having dinner around 9 pm… And finally, settle down!
Fortunately, in the library, the stories are not too long. At 8:30 p.m., it’s over. ” Still ! »« OK, but a very small one, like ‘Little Brown Bear’ »…
” Hello ! »: Dad is coming! Perfect: he will be able to continue with the second story, while I put our dinner to heat.
“Honey, she would like one last hug from you.” Ouh la la… it smacks of the trap this story! Because in the end, it’s not just a hug that she’s going to ask for, but also a bottle of water. And damn, we forgot the doll. She has a sore throat. And she would also like her bag … and finally some raisins, because she is a little hungry, etc., etc. The tension will rise, especially if the back and forth wakes up his brother who is sleeping in the same room. At 10 p.m., our patience will have reached its limits and we risk a clash.
How to handle this kind of delicate situation? Should we agree to keep our child awake later, and say goodbye to our evening as a couple? Or on the contrary, force her to lie down, even if it means letting her fall asleep with the feeling of being rejected? How to make the sunsets go well? This period of complicated sunsets now dates back to 8 years ago, since the water flowed under the bridges: I found solutions by myself; I trained in the United States as a sleep expert; and finally, I trained psychologists on the subject. And since that time of difficult sunsets, we have accompanied by more than 1000 parents towards serene nights… In this article, I offer you some keys that can already help you a lot!
My child does not want to sleep: is he really tired?
First let’s ask a question: why do we want our child to sleep right now?Is it because he is tired or is it because we yearn for calm?
do not forget limprobable statistics which emerged from the latest CPMHK survey of 720 parents: our children sleep an average of 10 hours per night. For some it will be 9 a.m., for others 11.
In addition, children and adults alike, we all know what are called “sleep trains” (sleep trains). cycles) every two hours or so. On average, children, whether they are 2 or 8 years old, fall asleep around 9 p.m., but for some it will be 8 p.m. and for others 10 p.m. And if they miss their “sleep train”, it’s a bit like when we are in the middle of a jet lag when we come back from a trip: we dream all day of being able to go to bed, but when the evening comes, it’s too much. late, we get in shape. It’s because we missed the famous train.
So, let’s take the time to observe our child: is he really tired? Wouldn’t it be easier to fall asleep if we put him to bed earlier?
Sometimes, unfortunately, all of this is not enough. This was our case, a few years ago with Leon, who despite fatigue and despite having good times spent together, refused to fall asleep. This is how we realized that many other essential parameters were at play! To receive (free of charge), the complete file on sleep, indicate your email address below, and I will send it to your inbox.
If his sleep train is late, should we allow him to spend the evening with us?
This was the “problem” we had at the time with Joy. Because of the compulsory nap at school, when she no longer needed it, she was absolutely not tired at night.
“I’m hungry”: what to do when faced with the famous “hunger pang”
One evening we decided to put our principles aside and really listen to our daughter. We spent time with the children and once in bed, around 9.15pm, Joy gets up “Mom, I’m hungry, I would like some bread”. Missed ! I had so much the impression that this time, it was won! But instead of sending her back to bed directly, Daddycool asks her:
- Are you a little hungry, or very hungry?
- Very hungry.
- So if you want, you mix up some green beans and then you will have a piece of bread.
A good way to find out if she was really hungry! Banco, she goes back down to the living room, takes 40 minutes (yes, she eats slowly) to eat 300 grams of green beans and a piece of bread.
Granted, she went to bed late, we didn’t have dinner until 10pm, but we also had a great time together. This time, we put our principles aside, and we took advantage of being all three. We laughed, we talked. In short, we had a great time. Because we accepted it.
OK, my kid doesn’t want to sleep, but what if we need an adult night out?
Accepting that our child goes to bed late is not always possible. Especially if it becomes a habit. On the one hand, because some children cannot go to bed, even when they are tired. And secondly, because even if some children (like Joy at the time) are not really tired, as parents, we also want a little peace in the evening, to meet up with adults. Two solutions are available to us: either accept this situation and really take advantage of this moment (as we did during the famous “green beans” evening), or find a solution to avoid the multiple reminders of our child.
Because, I repeat once again: the well-being of parents is as IMPORTANT as that of children. If the parents are not well, if they are too tired, if the couple takes a hit, indirectly it will affect the children. Therefore, preventing children from encroaching too much on the life of a couple is essential.
Should I show authority when my child does not want to sleep, so that he does not get up?
Can you force a child to sleep early (or when you have decided to)?
If we opt for the second solution, we can try to “exercise authority”: “It’s time to sleep, that’s all. And if you’re not happy, it’s like that and not otherwise ”.
Except that staying in bed, in the dark, when he’s not sleepy, can be really bad for a child. A long-time friend recently told me about his worst childhood memory: being forced to stay in bed doing nothing, when he had done nothing wrong and was not tired. . In short, to have the impression of being punished for his simple desire to live, to be deprived of his freedom!
Do we want him to sleep or leave us “alone”?
Why not combine the well-being of the child with that of the parents, by not necessarily forcing him to “sleep” (besides, apart from giving him a blow with a club, I do not see how we can oblige? someone to sleep), but rather to respect parents’ time. We can simply give him the possibility of reading calmly in his bed, with a dim light, or for the little ones with an audio book (we press the buttons and it sings songs). This detail can sometimes change everything and allow him to relax and let himself slide at his own pace into the arms of Morpheus.
And then, if our child is indeed tired, but he keeps getting up, maybe there is a reason …
Why can’t a tired child fall asleep?
Does a child get up or call us to annoy us?
Joy, rather very cooperative and easy going during the day, would she turn into a little monster at night? I decide to ask him directly. His response disarmed me: “It’s because I want to see you”. Can we blame a child for wanting to take advantage of his parents? Do you know what people regret the most on their deathbed? It is because they did not take enough advantage of their loved ones! Granted, this may sound a little creepy, but it can help us take a step back from our child’s attitude and ours. If your child clearly expressed “Dad, Mum, I missed you so much today! I love you so much, I want to spend time with you ”, would you answer him “That’s enough, it’s time to sleep, otherwise you’ll be tired tomorrow” (or “Stop bothering us, now you’re sleeping. I don’t care how you feel”)? Of course not, that would be totally inappropriate.
But then, what solution can be found when my child does not want to sleep to meet his needs, while respecting our need for us to have a moment of our own?
The problem is often the time spent “before”…
Fill the love tank
Like it or not, our child needs to spend time with us. Of course, we want to enjoy the time with them… but right now, we have something else to do! So when? The length of time we spend with our kids is generally not what matters, but rather the quality of the time spent together. Taking time with our child is not just being in the same room as him and making dinner / checking his Facebook page / calling his mother while he plays quietly next door. Being with our child means being dedicated to him, 100% available.
If you reread the first few lines of this article, you’ll notice one thing: 100% present I really wasn’t. Admittedly, I was not on my cellphone, nor doing anything else. I was 100% available to the children, but with a fixed idea: bedtime, rather than thinking about making the most of the present time.
Live the present moment fully
Being present means forgetting the time, forgetting to go to bed and, first and foremost, ENJOY this time together. Not to read a story “to read a story” (and short to go faster), but to read a story to have a real moment of sharing all together. And the longer it is, the more we will benefit from it!
For siblings, also make sure you have had a little time, even a short one, alone with each child, so that each one feels truly considered and loved.
By being 100% present, we will naturally take the logistics steps more smoothly, in a more fun way (obviously since our goal is more to have a good time with him! See the article “My child refuses to brush his teeth”) And everything will be better.
The evening hug is no longer just the “hug step”, but it is a real moment of exchange where our child feels really considered, listened to and loved.
Our children will go to bed maybe 30 minutes later, but with peace of mind, and much less risk of getting up. Then, it’s up to us to be confident that our child has had ‘his mum / daddy’s dose’ and is now able to go to bed peacefully.. And it is then this conviction that will allow us to be gentle and firm at the same time, to convince him in turn that he is able to lie down (we did not say to sleep😉) serenely.
NB: For those who wish to be accompanied to find serene sunsets and complete nights, do not wait to be at the end, it’s this way (child from 6 months to 6 years old).