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A Guide to Supporting Your Child’s Nightime Sleep

A Guide to Supporting Your Child’s Nighttime Sleep

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

It’s hard to overstate the importance of sleep! Research with children has shown that sleep and sleep routines are associated with language development, literacy, emotional and behavioral regulation, parent-child attachment, and family functioning. Sleep affects a child’s development!

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following amounts of sleep per day:
• Newborns (0-3 months) — 14 to 17 hours 
• Infants (4-11 months) — 12 to 15 hours
• Toddlers (1-2 years) — 11 to 14 hours
• Preschoolers (3-5 years) — 10 to 13 hours
• School-aged children (6 to 13 years) — 9 to 11 hours
• Teenagers (14 to 17 years) — 8 to 10 hours

Tips to a Better Night’s Sleep
1. Get moving during the day
Regular exercise is a fantastic way to encourage better sleep. To help your child wind down from the day, exercise should be avoided in the 3 hours before bedtime. 

2. Maintain a consistent nighttime routine and bedtime for your child
Prepare for bed at the same time each night. Repeat the same activities in the same order each night. For example, your child’s routine might consist of bathing, changing into their pajamas, brushing teeth, and listening to a bedtime story. Sticking to a consistent routine of calming activities can give your child a sense of predictability and security around bedtime.

3. Limit screen time before sleepingLimit screen time before sleeping
Research indicates that the use of screen media (computers, phones, tablets, and video game consoles) close to bedtime is related to delayed bedtimes, fewer hours slept, and to poor sleep quality for children and youth. Make a habit to put away screens for an hour before bedtime and to keep devices out of bedrooms as much as possible. 

4. Read bedtime stories together
Reading stories about appropriate bedtime behavior can help your child to understand your expectations. If your child has nighttime fears, it can help to read books that deal positively with the dark, for example. Any book reading at bedtime is a great way to increase relaxing quality time with you! 

5. Adjust the environment for sleeping
A dark, quiet room is ideal to encourage restful sleep. A night-light can be used to provide soft lighting if your child is afraid of the dark. It is helpful to be mindful of the noise and the light around your child when they are sleeping. 

6. Maintain a consistent wake time
Waking up at the same time each day will help to maintain your child’s sleep schedule. Letting your child “catch up” on sleep in the morning can push your child’s sleep schedule back, resulting in later bedtimes. When your child wakes up at the same time each day, they will be ready to sleep at their scheduled bedtime.

Sleep Resources
Zero to Three: Sleep Struggles? We’ve got Resources
Nationwide Children’s: Healthy Sleep Habits for Infants and Toddlers
Nationwide Children’s: Healthy Sleep Habits for Older Children and Teens
Seattle Children’s Hospital: Resources for Sleep Conditions (selected resources available in Spanish and Vietnamese)

Bedtime Story Resources
Bedtime Story Prompts for Parents
StoryBerries: Free Bedtime Stories  



 

Eat, Nap, Play, Repeat: Your Child and Routines


Eat, Nap, Play, Repeat: Your Child and Routines

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

Everyone has routines that work for them. Perhaps this morning began like most of your mornings do: shuffle to the bathroom, wash your face, and brush your teeth before making coffee. These regular patterns serve important functions in our daily lives. For instance, our morning routines help us transition from being asleep to being awake and being ready for the day. In general, routines help us with transitions, and they give us a sense of comfort and security. 

Benefits of Routines
For our children, routines serve a similar purpose. Research on routines suggests that they play a critical role in establishing a child’s sense of predictability, stability, and security. When children learn to anticipate a loved one’s return, and when they will nap, play, and snack, they gain a sense of emotional security knowing that there is a trusted adult to help meet their needs. In the toddler years, routines help build independence, trust, and security. For preschool and elementary-age children, the use of routines can reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity and aid the development of self-control. 

Routines and Learning
Routines are repeated, predictable events that form the foundation of our daily lives. These moments provide some of the richest learning experiences for child development. Through routines, you can teach your child a variety of skills. For instance, a regular bedtime routine teaches children important sleep skills, such as how to wind down for the night. In addition, you can teach safety skills through practicing a routine that consists of holding hands with an adult, and then looking both ways before crossing a street. Similarly, children can practice their social skills when interacting with others through sticking to the routine of starting with a greeting, chatting, and ending with a goodbye. 

Don’t Just Feed – Nourish
As you move through daily routines with your child, take advantage of the time together to be fully present in the moment. You might explain the importance of the activity that you are doing together. You might let them know what you expect of them. You may even share personal stories and experiences from your own childhood. These moments are important learning experiences for our kids, and they are emotionally recharging for both caregiver and child. In these moments, you have the opportunity not just to feed, but to nourish. 

Resources
CDC Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers: Creating Structure and Rules
Family-Based Routine Support Guide: Building Relationships with InfantsFamily-Based Routine Support Guide: Early Elementary — 4 to 8 years



 

Self-care and Why It’s Important

Self-care and Why It’s Important

Written by: Caitlyn Chun

Raising a child is serious work! As a caregiver, you demonstrate patience, kindness, and empathy for your children every day. Your time may be spent juggling a seemingly endless number of tasks, and it can be all too easy to deprioritize the activities that lift you up. Even though it can feel like self-care is just another item on your list, making self-care a priority can make it easier to juggle all that you do! 

What is self-care and why is it important
Self-care is the use of activities and strategies to sustain well-being and the ability to function. Research has demonstrated that engaging in self-care on a regular basis has benefits for caregiver adjustment, identity, and functioning with children. Think of it like recharging your batteries; it is critical to engage in activities that will replenish your physical, mental, and spiritual energy so that you can stay at the top of your game. In addition, when your kids see how your self-care benefits you, they will learn that prioritizing their own wellness is a part of being a responsible human!It is important to note that self-care is not the same as self-indulgence — activities such as binge-watching TV and shopping for luxury items do not serve our long-term wellbeing. Self-indulgent behaviors are typically short-term fixes. Self-care behaviors are activities and habits that will sustain you for the long haul. 

Self-care strategies (adapted from Self Care Inventory from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2008)
In general, self-care is about what will sustain you in the long run. What works for one person may not necessarily work for someone else. Check out some suggested self-care strategies for the following areas of wellbeing:
Physical 
• Eat healthy meals
• Get enough sleep
• Stretch and work out to raise your heart rate
• Take time away from screens
• Go outside for fresh air and sunshine

Psychological
• Make time for self-reflection
• Read for fun
• Practice mindfulness
• Practice saying “no” to additional responsibilities
• Identify what you do for yourself as opposed to what you do for others

Emotional 
• Spend quality time with those you love
• Identify and engage in comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, and places
• Allow yourself to express your feelings (e.g., laugh, cry, etc.) 
• Give yourself affirmations and praise
• Talk with others about the joys and challenges of raising children

Spiritual 
• Spend time with nature
• Be aware of the non-material aspects of life
• Contribute time, energy, and resources to causes in which you believe in
• Engage with inspirational literatures (books, music, lectures, etc.)
• Identify areas for personal growth
• Workplace or Professional
– Take breaks during the day
– Give yourself quiet time and a quiet space to complete tasks
– Participate in projects that are exciting and rewarding
– Arrange your workspace for comfort
– Plan nutritional meals and snacks during work

Resources
For a deeper dive into understanding self-care:
Self-care for Parents
Taking Care of Yourself
Managing Stress by Strengthening your Support Network

Additional Resources:
3 – 20 minute guided meditations
5 – 25 minute self-compassion guided meditations and exercises
Workout videos