One of the most debated areas in parenting is the best way to get children to sleep. I’ve heard lots of techniques and I am far too scared of all the strong opinions out there to make a call on which one is the best. But one of the Family Coaches recently shared an insight with me based on attachment theory that made a lot sense and actually works alongside lots of different sleep strategies.
- Toddler bedtimes – the mindful parenting way
- How to help an anxious child
- Video: The two basics of parenting
Children have a hunger for attachment, and it is very hard for them to go to sleep hungry. Attachment is their connection with you. If they get all their attachment needs met before bedtime and during bedtime rituals, they will sleep more easily and soundly. And just like feeding them with food, it is so much better if you are taking the lead and meeting their needs before they are screaming for it.
Maybe your current pattern is – you kiss them good night, return to the lounge and then wait with growing tension for the inevitable calling out. And then you return to their bedroom in a huff and give them a fairly half-hearted hug, and then return to the lounge and wait for round three, or four, or five. The insight – the child is hungry – not for food, but for attachment. They were hungry at bedtime, and barely-concealed grumpiness now isn’t meeting that need anyway.
So meet that need proactively – get in ahead, realise what they need and give it to them before they yell for it. “Good night. I’m going to call back and see you in a few minutes. You might fall asleep before I get back and that’s okay, but I will be calling back.” Or, “I want to spend a bit more time with you so I’m just going to sit in the corner and read my book for a while.” You are emphasising the fact that you are still connected, and not abandoning them.
Attend a Toolbox parenting course
Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.