Child can’t sleep? S/he ends up in your bed? Bedwetting, thirsty or scared?
I was inspired by an article that I read today about children having bad dreams and not sleeping well if allowed to watch TV right before bedtime. This article details how children who are younger than five or six do not have developed the ability to differentiate between real and fantasy. Of course. We all know this. As ECE professionals, we call this phase “magical thinking” and it’s also what makes Christmas, dress-up and peek-a-boo fun! But in the role of parent, it has another consequence and it is a real part of children’s development to believe everything, true or not. Most of us adults know, or have discovered that watching scary, nerve wracking or suspenseful TV might keep us from sleeping well at night. I make a pact with myself to never pay the bills before bedtime, it stresses me out. My husband made a deal with me 12 years ago that we’d never start an emotionally charged discussion after 9 pm. We were just too tired to behave well and it disturbed our sleep. The fact is, most adults know this about ourselves and we should be able to apply the same logic, albeit an earlier bedtime, to our young children. If your child goes to bed at 8, then 7 pm should be the last TV show they watch (or movie, game or computer). Allow their brain to disconnect from the fast pace of electronics and move on to more natural pastimes: bathing, reading, board games, storytelling or just talking with parents and siblings. These may indeed be the greatest moments of your life, as well as your child’s life. Don’t spoil these moments with the boob tube!