Once upon a bedtime Maggie and her brother Patrick were getting kissed for the millionth time before bed. They had each taken a bath, brushed their teeth and read two stories a piece before the lights went out at 7:30 pm. THEN… WAIT! Maggie realized she was so very thirsty and Patrick noticed he had a sore finger, but Maggie’s stuffed unicorn needed an extra kiss and Patrick was bored and Maggie had to use the bathroom again after drinking two glasses of water and Patrick had to tell his mother about how the dust under his bed is all his dead skin and Maggie had to jump up and down on her bed because that sounded gross and Patrick also had to jump, well… because it looked fun. “ENOUGH!” said Dad, “It’s time for bed!” A few streets over James, who was also all ready for bed at 7:15 pm caught his mother trying to sneak out of his bed for the 16th time already that night. Between over tired sniffles and tears he tried to ask his mother how he was ever suppose to trust her if she kept trying to trick him. He went on to comment about how she must not love him because he’s already told her a monster tries to eat his toes if she is not in his bed to protect him. “ENOUGH!” said Mom, “You know I love you James. It’s time for bed!” On the other side of town Ellie snuggled into bed between her parents as she did every night. She wrapped her little arms and legs around her father and commented on how he was the world’s best teddy bear. Her mother mentioned remembering when she used to get to cuddle with Daddy and Daddy suggested that Ellie try her new big girl bed tomorrow night. “ENOUGH!” said Ellie, “You are going to give me a headache. It’s time for bed!” It was 9:00 pm, no one was asleep and there was not going to be a happily ever after in this neighborhood unless something changed. If you relate to this bedtime story, it’s time we alleviate some of this stress, guilt and exhaustion; let’s work together to write a new ending to your own bedtime story. I had a parent once confess that she couldn’t figure out if her child was having sleep problems, or if his behavior was typical. After having any medical explanations ruled out, I reminded her that very often the behavior is typical, but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem.
Who do you find your services most beneficial for? The entire family! Everyone feels better when they have good sleep hygiene habits. As adults we know this and still may find it difficult to get in a good routine that suits our needs, so naturally it is going to be more difficult for a child or teen. Children from 3-7 years old are not the only ones who may need a sleep consult. What exactly do you do? This very much depends on you, your child, the other people who live in the home as well as the household ongoings. Like much of my work, I find by individualizing a sleep plan that works best for everyone involved, there is a far greater likelihood of success.
What will my involvement be in this process? Unlike potty training, your involvement in this process is vital. The good news is that within a few nights it is highly likely you will be spending much less time with your child on the bedtime struggle, and will have more time for yourself. With older children, you may be asked to participate, on a case by case situation – it is unlikely you will be spending any more time than you already do with the process.
I know you work with typically developing kids, but what kind of special needs are you used to working with? I have worked on sleep training and hygiene with a variety of children, including but not limited to, those who have developmental delays, pervasive developmental disorder (formerly the autism spectrum), attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, paralysis, seizure disorders, children who are deaf, blind or varying combinations of the two, as well as children who have faced trauma.
Are there any benefits to hiring you aside from the obvious, eliminating problem bedtime behaviors and enhancing my child’s sleep hygiene? Not just your child, but everyone will get a better nights sleep and feel well rested in the morning. Additionally, by working together, I provide caregivers with personalized strategies to help identify and circumvent behavioral challenges and how to respond if a challenge does arise. While these tools are given in the context of bedtime behaviors, much of what is learned can be applied to a number of situations you and your child will face during this phase of development. If you are curious about how we can help your family get more sleep, click here and fill out the form provided.