Sleep for 4- to 5-year-olds

These tips about children’s sleeping habits may help you sleep through the night!

By the age of four, your child will most likely no longer need an afternoon nap -although a few may still need it - and will be sleeping 10 to 12 hours per night. According to Michigan State University Extension, there are reasons that a child at this age may wake up in the middle of the night. One reason may be that they are having bad dreams and are scared. We must comfort the child until they are able to go back to sleep. They may want to talk about it at that time or the next day. Just remember that the dream feels real to them so we need to take it serious when we comfort them. If this continues, you may want to look into what games your child is playing and any violent shows that they are watching and be more involved in the more positive games and shows they are watching.

Another reason that they may wake up, is because they are having Night Terrors. The child appears that they are awake because their eyes may be open, but they are in fact still sleeping. They may quickly jump up in bed and cry, moan, try to talk (we can’t understand them) and may swing their bodies around. Do not try to wake them as this will pass and the child will more than likely go back to sleep. Stay with the child until this terror passes and they are calm.

Wetting the bed could also be a reason they are waking up. Do not scold them when this happens. Support them by having them remove their wet clothes, clean up and change into dry ones; be sure to assist when needed. Try to monitor their liquid intake towards the end of the day. If bedwetting continues, then you may want to talk to their doctor.

By the age of five you may experience behavior problems at bedtime. This may be due to them trying to asserting their independence. Try changing their bedtime or have them use a nightlight. Set aside a time before bedtime to talk with them about what is going on in their world. They may bring up problems or concerns that you were not even aware of.   Stick to the bedtime and allow them some choices such as what book to read or what to wear to bed or in the morning. This will give them some control over their lives. At bedtime always stick to the rules and do not give into their demands or request, this will only set them back. They will adjust to the rules soon and bedtime will become enjoyable for the whole family.

For more information on your child’s development, visit the MSU Extension website. If you have any concerns about your child’s health, contact your pediatric doctor’s office.

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