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About Sleep for Preschoolers

Preschoolers sleeping patterns

This is an exciting time for preschoolers; they are learning and finding out more about themselves, others, and the world they live in.  They are beginning to understand how others are feeling and how their actions and behaviours can impact on others, especially to their main care givers. Preschoolers  are busy people and learning all the time. It is important to remember that preschoolers need to rest and sleep in order to concentrate on all that they are doing. They are generally inquisitive, argumentative, and very imaginative, and are very good at dramatising situations. Language is becoming more proficient and they generally love to ask continuous questions. They are developing tactics to hold parents' attention.

Get the Limited Edition Ngala Secrets Book today!Observing pre-schoolers tired signs is crucial in helping them to establish good sleeping patterns.  Tired irritable preschoolers may also display tiredness by getting over excited and running rampant around the house and sometimes almost hysterical. Tired signs are unique to each individual child. Try and have a consistent ritual. They give preschoolers a sense of routine, consistency and security. This enables them to make the transition from being very active, to being calm to settle for a day or night-time sleep. Preparing the environment is helpful and preschoolers love to take on these tasks. For example, they may get their favourite toy, choose a book, close the main blinds, or bring in their own drink of water.

Day Time Settling

Sleeping during the day tends to reduce as your child gets older.  Preschoolers are usually down to one day-time sleep which often occurs around lunch time. Some preschoolers sleep for an hour and some only sleep however need a rest/quite time. This rest time can greatly help an active toddler get through to the end of the day without being too irritable. Over tired preschoolers can move from being pleasant, cooperative, to angry and very frustrated.  Preparing them for their day time sleep/rest can be as simple as ensuring their basic needs are met i.e., they have had lunch and a drink, have a clean nappy and are wearing appropriate clothing.

Reading a story in their room will help children to quiet down. Give your preschooler the time and opportunity to try and self-settle. They may choose to talk or sing and that may be all they need to rejuvenate their batteries and have some self time.

Night Time Settling

Consistency again is imperative in helping establish settling patterns. Having an early dinner, perhaps a bath, getting into bed time clothing, brushing their teeth, saying good night to the dog and other family members and having some wind-down time is often the first step in setting the stage for sleeping for a preschooler.  If reading a story, be clear when you will stop, after this story, it is sleep time. Some preschoolers like to have their favourite toy or blanket to help settle, others may still thumb suck or talk or sign themselves to sleep. Calling out and stalling are to be expected at this stage, as they want to stay up longer and be with you. Say goodnight, give them a night time kiss and tell them that you will see them in the morning. Once you have left them give them time to self settle - this may often take up to 45 minutes. If they start to get upset, return and reassure them and remind them it is time to sleep. Preschoolers may protest by vomiting, gagging, and screaming. Try and remain calm, change and refresh them with minimal fuss.  If they come out of their bed it is often best to just walk them back in a calm reassuring manner and commence resettling again.  Remind them to stay in their bed. It is helpful to acknowledge your preschoolers emotions, for example you may say “I know you are very tired and do not want to go to bed, when you’ve had a sleep you will have more energy to play tomorrow. We can have some fun together”.  Remember they are still learning and growing. They need you to be reassuring, warm and at the same time, consistent and firm.

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