With schools closing and parents working from home, the next few months offer an opportunity to develop healthy child sleep habits and promote a sense of well-being for the whole family. Home schooling and self-isolation will not be easy for any of us but there are evidence-based approaches which we can draw on as recommended by child sleep psychologists.
With meditation, mindfulness and other ideas below, you can help manage your child’s anxiety and work with their natural biological rhythms to make your time together positive and productive. It’s a great time to resolve a child sleep issues with less packed into our days and more time at home. Take a look at our HappySleepers charted psychologist tips below, and do get in touch if you need more advice.
Structure the week
Building some structure into your child’s week will help to foster a sense of security. Depending on the age of your child, a visual plan for the week could be drawn up with all family members contributing ideas. Discussion could include new getting up times and bedtimes, learning time, screen time, playtime, time to be alone, planned quality 1:1 time. New family rules and responsibilities could also be discussed. These plans could be reviewed as a family at the end of each week.
Explaining the changes
Talk to your child about the Coronavirus, using the approach that feels right for your child’s needs and developmental stage. The British Psychological Society advice is helpful:
These visual resources are good examples of materials that are available on the internet:
Quality 1:1 time with parent and child for a short time daily may be beneficial.
Activities to promote well-being
Introduce some ‘emotionally healthy’ activities such as mindfulness or yoga. You could try:
Try to manage your own worries. What things usually help to make you feel a bit calmer?
Encouraging adequate sleep
Consistent sleep wake times across the week help to promote healthy sleep, so maintain your routine as much as possible by getting up / going to bed at a similar time each day.
Whilst you might not be synchronizing your day for early school and work start times, it will help to make sure your child is getting a good amount of sleep each night. Daytime behaviour, attention and emotional regulation will all benefit. A good reference for recommended sleep times is the National Sleep Foundation website.
Biological rhythms and body clocks
If possible, support your child to get out into natural light for at least 30 minutes, in the early part of the day. For some families this could be in the garden or for others confined to the home this could be exposure to natural light within the home. This helps in the production melatonin (the sleep hormone) later on in the day and therefore facilitating sleep.
Eat meals at regular times and encourage daily exercise.
The hour before bed
Keep your focus on good bedtime habits in the hour before bed. No back lit screens during this time. Follow a consistent and relaxing pre-bed wind down routine. If you need to revamp your child bedtime routine, get them on board with this, together draw up pictures for the steps in your child’s routine.