ruthiebabie1 asks:

Help to get 6 year old to sleep

My daughter is 6 years old and has trouble going to sleep. Every night i read her a bedtime story and spend about 30 minutes with her to unwind, but unfortunately it takes another 2 hours for her to go to sleep.
But since she has now started school again it seems that she is starting to get into a nice routine.
The only problem is now I'm thinking every school holiday is this going to become a pattern. I've tried many things..baths, laying with her, even sitting at the top of the stairs, but eventually i ended up being stressed then have trouble sleeping myself.
Would like some advice on what to do.
In Topics: Sleep and rest
> 60 days ago


Answers (1)

lkauffman writes:
Your daughter is lucky to have such a loving and dedicated mother! It sounds like you are working very hard to make the bedtime routine and transition smooth for her.

I assume that your daughter has always had some difficultly falling asleep at night. Is that right? If so, this is a wonderful time to help her learn how to settle herself from drowsiness in order to fall into a deep sleep. If she has generally been able to fall asleep easily, but she has only recently begun to have difficulties, you should spend extra time talking with her about bedtime and her day to try and understand what may have changed for her.

Here are some additional tips to keep the bedtime routine moving smoothly:

1. It sounds like your daughter responds well to routines. Do your best to implement a consistent bedtime routine on school nights, weekends, and holidays. Decide on a bedtime for your daughter (children your daughter's age generally need about 10-12 hours of sleep). One hour before bedtime, enforce quiet time. Quiet time will lower your daughter's activity level and prepare her nervous system for relaxation.

2. Provide advance notice. About twenty and then ten minutes before the bath and book routine begins, give your daughter warning that her bedtime routine is about to start.

3. Escort her throughout her routine. It sounds like you are already doing much of this, but guide her through the bath routine, reading books, and consider reading relaxation books with her like Earthlight by Maureen Garth: I have recommended this book (and other books in her series) to many parents over the years, and they have universally reported that their children enjoyed the book.

4. When it is time to say goodnight, say "good night" and let her know that you love her and that you can't wait to see her in the morning. I would avoid lingering over the good night, such as laying with her. She needs to learn how to soothe herself and fall asleep on her own. If she cries and is really struggling, you can let her know that you are nearby, but it is time for bed and time to sleep. You can set a kitchen timer for five, ten minutes and let her know you will return when it rings for a quick kiss.

The key is to detaching with compassion and helping your daughter to relax and soothe herself. Many children (and infants, for that matter) struggle with the act of separation and falling sleep, so they experience a rush of adrenaline and anxiety because they don't feel comfortable or safe. Reassure your daughter that she will be safe, can sleep on her own, and you will be there for her.

Good luck!

Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Child Psychologist JustAsk Expert
> 60 days ago

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