Christina - posted on 03/16/2010 ( 3 moms have responded )
In response to a reply from my posting on a recent conversation regarding Schedules,
I would like to give everyone something to consider that I have found extremely successful. When a child has not had sufficient physical activity, especially with large motor exercises like climbing or running, they will often show restlessness in the evening and be unable to sleep when it is "bedtime." If anyone observes this in their child at bedtime, I would recommend 2 preventives to ensure they are "worn-out" enough to go to bed when it is time to sleep:
1. Work towards 4 hours of active play every day (minimum), preferrably outdoor play. Running, climing stairs, climbing big piles of cushions and pillows, dancing too during rainy days will also work as a substitute when outdoor is not an option. But remember that cold weather is healthy for children to play in if they are bundled appropriately. Plenty of outdoor activity is really the best way to ensure good, solid sleep patterns. Scandinavian societies know this and gear all childcare and school-age children towards this model, even in sub-zero temperatures.
2. Make sure your child does not have sugar or high carb foods just before bedtime (of course, sugar is not good for children at all, so read the labels, except during special occasions, just not daily). What happens is that when a child is sedentary during their day, especially if the are sitting in front of a television at all, they are ancy at bed and cannot sleep. Then, they go to bed late; then, they have a long nap the next day because they didn't sleep enough at night; then, they cannot sleep that next night because they slept too long at naptime, and you have the viscous cycle starting.
But, my point is that it is best to focus on the preventive approach with exercise instead of continually treating symtoms. Children who are not sleeping at any age are most likely in need of more physical activity during their day! Stepping up outdoor exercise will also prevent a host of other problems which I go into in my book, The New Physics of Childhood. Exercise is not the remedy to everything, only most things! (try it for 2 weeks minimum and see what results you get and post them here please!)