Healthy children need sleep. Effective parenting includes helping children get sufficient quality sleep.
Sleep certainly involves physiological processes, but the quality of the parent-child relationship is important to help children fall asleep and experiencing a restful night, according to Annie Bernier and her colleagues.
Should parents be present when bedtime begins? The available research suggests that for children older than 3-months, the presence of parents at bedtime and during the night can interfere with sleep.
What about bedtime routines? Consistent bedtime routines generally lead to better quality sleep.
What about parents in conflict? According to the authors, the research supports a connection between a parent’s psychological difficulties and their children’s sleep difficulties. Most of the studies have focused on links between parent depression and anxiety and children’s sleep. Other studies have found links between marital conflict and a child’s impaired sleep. Some obvious problems can be the noise itself that occurs with late night parental quarrels.
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The point of this post is to raise awareness of the importance of sleep to a child’s well-being and the fact that family environments can promote or interfere with a good night’s sleep.
Parents looking for solutions should of course see their physician but they may also benefit from consulting a psychologist or counselor when personal and family conflict factors may be the source of sleep difficulties.
Disclosure: This post is meant to be educational and is not presented as personal advice. I am not advertising clinical services for myself or anyone else. I earn a small royalty if a reader buys one of my books.
Bernier, A., Bélanger, M.-È., & Tétreault, É. (2019). The hand that rocks the cradle: The family and parenting context of children’s sleep. In B. H. Fiese, M. Celano, K. Deater-Deckard, E. N. Jouriles, & M. A. Whisman (Eds.), APA handbook of contemporary family psychology: Applications and broad impact of family psychology., Vol. 2. (pp. 137–151). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000100-009
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