We all know that absolutely nothing has been normal over the last several months. We’ve had to adjust every part of our lives, from work to play to school and even sleep. Our kids have been great through all of these ducks and dodges, but sometimes they feel the strain of it all. All of this flexibility was fun, at first, but over the course of months, some kids experience additional anxiety and worry. Without their usual coping strategies accessible (sports, friends, hobbies), the impact of anxiety on children can be challenging. Anxiety is not only problematic for daytime well-being, but can also increase problems with sleep. It’s more important that ever to make sure our kids are getting healthy sleep during this time. And that’s not easy — especially when all of their schedules have gone right out the window.
When sleep is insufficient there are a number of casualties: academic functioning, hyperactivity, attention and concentration problems, irritability and lower frustration tolerance. Parent-child conflict and problems with mood and focus can wreak havoc on academic functioning while children try to learn from home during the pandemic.
Making sure your child gets the sleep they need is even more critical these days. Here are just a couple of tips that may help:
Consistent Bed and Wake Times (even on weekends!): Although it’s tempting to let the kids stay up later and comfort them with couch cuddles in the late evening, resist this temptation. Inconsistent sleep schedules are not ideal for good sleep and supporting a healthy immune system. Also, remember, a well-rested child will have a better attention span when doing school work the following day.
Talking Things Through: With anxiety and worry at an all-time high right now, your kids may try to hop into your bed or ask you to stick around while they fall asleep. However, nighttime support is habit forming, and can reduce a child’s independence with sleep transition. This may lead to difficulty falling asleep and returning to sleep. As an alternative, find time during the day for support and talking through problems. Your child will be more alert for your reassurances and will be more effective while not creating future sleep problems.
Take Care of You: Managing life during the pandemic is tough and we are in uncharted territory. Remember to find time to also take of your own health and wellness. Set aside some time each day for “me-time” where you do something for yourself (e.g., bath, reading, supportive call with a friend), and make sure to get a good night’s sleep.