Bad Guys, and Black Snakes and Sharks, Oh My!

Do your children have fears, either real or imagined?  My son almost never says he’s afraid of anything, but my 7 year old daughter is another story.  She has both real and imagined fears.  Real fears being things like the snake from outside coming into her room at night and imagined being monsters in her closet.  Some of these fears I believe are partly to stall at bedtime, but I (almost) always treat them as something she really believes in.  (Afterall, I am human and do lose my patience sometimes and have been known to just say “No, there is absolutely NO reason to be afraid of sharks, we do not even live NEAR an ocean, now Go To Bed!”)

Kids looking at a shark

 

 

 

 

 

There are several ways to deal with fears in your children.  However you deal with them, you should take them seriously.  No matter how outrageous the fear sounds to you, it probably seems real to your child.  Make sure you let your child tell you about their fear.  That way you can understand how to handle it.

If they are afraid of something like bad guys coming into your home, let your child know that Mommy and Daddy are there to protect them.  That is something they should not worry about because other people worry about that and take care of them and protect them.   My daughter will talk about bad guys sometimes.  And then there was the time we saw a black snake outside but near her bedroom.  The fear of the snake coming in lasted several nights and we kept reassuring her that it would not come near her because it would be more afraid of her then she was of it.

If your child is afraid of something imagined, like monsters in their closets, feel free to tell them that monsters are not real.  Tell them that this is just a bad thought in their head and they are in control of the thoughts in their head.  This is what I do with my 7 year old daughter when she is having bad thoughts or has had a bad dream.  We talk briefly about it and then I remind her that it is just a bad thought in her head and she can take that bad thought out.  We use our hands and pretend we are taking the bad thought out of our heads and throwing it out the window.  Then I tell her we have to put a good thought in.  Sometimes she already knows what good thought she wants to think about (going on vacation is a common one) and sometimes we have to do some brainstorming to find one she wants to think about.  Once she finds one she likes, she usually goes to sleep pretty quickly.

You could also discuss with your child what they would like to dream about before they go to sleep at night.  This gets them thinking of good things before they even go to sleep.

Let me know if you have questions or comments!

By Michelle Wintersblack snake on tree

 

Sleep Training a Puppy

sleeping AlvinSo if you do have your children sleeping and you are enjoying sleep, it’s probably best to not get a puppy!

We adopted our Alvin when he was 7 weeks old back in December.  I had been enjoying sleeping mostly through the night in the months prior.  My children were sleeping and so was the dog we had.   It was my idea to get the puppy though and I promised I would be the one getting up with him in the night.

I was ready though (or so I thought)!  When I graduated college and was home with my parents, they got a new German Shepherd puppy.  She was baby-gated in the kitchen, but would climb over the baby gate at night if she was awake and no one was with her.  So, since I wasn’t working, I would be the one who would sit with her while she fell asleep at night.  Once she fell asleep, I went to sleep and that was all I remembered.  I have no idea if she woke in the middle of the night – after all, I wasn’t getting up with her.

We decided to put Alvin in one of those play yards that we had when our kids were really little.  That way he could have his bed and a puppy pad, and I could climb in if I needed to stay with him.  I started off staying with him, and every 2 hours he woke up and needed me to come take him out and sit with him while he fell back asleep.  I tried really hard not to let him fall asleep on my lap (but it was hard because he was so cute!).  I’d let him lie his head on me though, but when he was getting sleepier, I’d move it off.  Then once he was asleep, I’d ever so quietly and slowly get up and walk out of the room.  Usually he’d stay asleep – but not always.  Then I’d have to sit back down with him until he fell asleep again.

This brought back memories of when my son wasn’t sleeping.  I’d almost dread going to bed, because I never knew how long I’d get to sleep.  My stomach would drop at that first cry (or bark).

After a week or two Alvin learned how to climb out of the play yard.  By this time, he was also waking up, going to the bathroom on the puppy pad (or his bed, or the floor) and then he’d cry so I could come sit with him while he fell back asleep.  After ending up stepping in poop one night because he had gotten out of the play yard, pooped, then “called” me, I decided I had to make a change.

My husband put one of the dog crates together, we put Alvin in, and who knew – he started sleeping better!!  Now, at 4 months old, he wakes around 4 or 4:30 and I feed him and our other dog Abby.  The other night he woke at 3:30 and I decided that I was NOT going to feed him that early.  I took them out, but he went back to sleep until 7.  That’s when I decided to “stretch his feed”.  So yesterday, he woke at 4:15 and I didn’t feed him.  This morning he slept till 5:45!!  Yippee!!

Now, if only my clients had it this easy with their kids . . .

sleeping

 

By Michelle Winters

Researching Personal Care Products

EWG imageDid you know there is a website that you can go to where you can research the toxicity of your personal care products?

Check out http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.  They have over 79,000 products listed and they rate them from 0 – 10 based on the toxicity of the products’  ingredients.

I love this website and use it to research the products I am currently using, as well as look up new products that are less toxic.

Enjoy it!

 

– Michelle

Tips for Older Children

With older children, 3 and up, you can discuss how important sleep is with them.  Tell them how much more fun they will have the next day after they get a good night sleep.  You can also tell them if you get a good nights sleep, you will be happier the next day and have more energy to play with them.

Tell them that the body fixes itself at night and does some growing which is why it is so important for them to go to bed at a reasonable hour and sleep until the morning.

I usually recommend a clock that changes color in the morning if your child cannot tell time.  Here is my favorite clock (and the one my 5 & 7 year olds use): 

Here are are some other Kid’s Alarm Clocks.

Sticker Charts can also work well with older children.

Get your children involved in making bedtime restful too.  Sit down with them and see what they would like to see at bedtime and decide what you can do to remove power struggles.  Is it hard to get your child to brush their teeth?  See if you can do it earlier in the routine.

How much sleep does your child need?

A 3 year old needs around 10.5 hours of sleep at night and a 1.5 hour nap

A 4 year old needs 11.5 hours of sleep at night, and some still take naps.

A 5 year old needs 11 hours of sleep at night.

6, 7, and 8 year olds need between 10 1/4 to 10 3/4 of sleep at night.

A 9 year old needs 10 hours of sleep at night. 

Also, check out this website for fun coloring pages to help your children learn the importance of sleep:  http://www.sleepforkids.org/.

 

Thanks for reading!

By Michelle Winters

That Dreaded Second Wind

Ever wonder why your child gets a second wind when they miss their bedtime? If your child missed their sleep window (the natural time when they are ready
for bed) instead of producing calming melatonin, their bodies’ produce the stress hormone cortisol. This causes your child to have trouble falling and staying asleep. To avoid this – Make sure your child goes to sleep at around the same time everyday. Watch the clock and their sleepy cues to be sure their bedtime is when it should be.