While many parents watch their children emerge from the infancy stage and assume that sleep issues and night wakings are behind them, many sleep issues can resurface during their preschool years. If your child is having trouble getting enough sleep or if your daycare provider is reporting that she seems tired during the day, you might need to tackle your child’s sleep concerns so that she can go back to her usual, well-rested self.
Your child refuses to go to bed.
Children at this age develop an unwillingness to go to sleep, and to separate from the fun, loving, active world they’ve been a part of for their waking hours. Closing their eyes means saying goodbye to all the fun, and it also means saying goodbye to mom and dad. Try keeping the sound on the television low after your child goes to bed, keep laughter quiet, and assure her that after she goes to bed, no one is playing with any toys or watching anything on television that she might find interesting. You may also want to reassure her that even though sleep means separating from you for a little while, you are always near her, just in the other room, and that she will always see you in the morning. Getting her talking about why she doesn’t want to go to sleep can help her to process these feelings and move past them.
Your child won’t stay in his bed.
Does your child regularly get out of bed to ask for a glass of water, a different set of stuffed animals in his bed, another nightlight, or a hug? Your child is having difficulty being away from you in the middle of the night and is trying to develop closeness with you by coming up with all sorts of “needs” which aren’t truly needs. Keep these middle of the night wakings as short and sweet as possible. If your child wakes you up, return him to his bed without a lot of fuss and conversation, giving him a firm hug and letting him know that you love him.
Your child’s bedtime is too late.
This is a common problem among preschool age children. During your child’s toddler years, you may have extended her bedtime a little later, as she was likely napping consistently and for long periods of time during the day. But as children head toward their third birthdays, they often begin to sleep less during naptime, sometimes skipping their naps altogether. While this is a normal development, your child may need to go to bed a little earlier while her body is getting used to a reduced amount of sleep. Shift bedtime fifteen minutes earlier for a few nights and see if she seems less overtired at bedtime and more rested during the day. If not, try an additional fifteen minutes until you’ve reached a bedtime that feels appropriate for this developmental stage.
Did any sleep issues arise for your preschooler around the age of three or four? Let us know how you tackled these problems in the comments section!