When children resist going to bed at night with all their strength, there is no magical formula to get them to sleep.
Together with love, experience and patience, some strategies can be successful. Certain medical and scientific explanations can help parents understand why children do not want to go to sleep, avoid it, have nightmares, cry or sneak into their parents’ bed whenever they get the chance. Neuropsychologist Álvaro Bilbao offers a few key pointers:
- Separation anxiety
If the child shares a bedroom with their parents during the first six months of life, the decision to stop this habit can be traumatic, as all changes cause humans to feel insecure, and babies can feel this even more. Also, between seven and nine months, what psychologists refer to as separation anxiety occurs: a stage in which they begin to understand that sometimes people are there and other times they are not. Also read: Sleep habits develop during childhood
- Common mistakes
Leaving children all day in their cribs or in the car without any activity, or overstimulating them with images, songs, movement or games, are contrasts that should be avoided. “Children need help falling asleep with some daytime and nighttime routines, support and patience,” explains the specialist. A common mistake is to let them read or watch a story on a tablet or cell phone, as this activates their brain.
- The importance of love
When it comes to helping them fall asleep, love and affection are a necessity. It is crucial to care for a baby when it cries because this helps them develop trust and emotional security. “A child that grows up in a sensitive environment that attends to their needs is more likely to become an adult with good self-esteem and self-trust, which forms part of all the spheres of their life.”
More recent studies show that children who have developed a safe attachment “…not only trust themselves more, they are supportive and establish reliable affectionate ties with other peers, couples and even with their own children.” Related article: An explanation for your baby’s poor sleep