Brigitte Langevin is a sleep specialist. She is a speaker and author whose goal is to improve the quality of sleep and understand dreams. She is the author of several books on the subject. Helping my child sleep provides a great deal of information for parents. She is a dynamic person who is much sought-after for her humour and ability to make theoretical and scientific concepts accessible to all. Nights are more satisfying so performances during the day are improved thanks to her help!
Parents and naptime
Nowadays, a caregiver must not only take care of the sleep needs of the children under her care, but also inform parents of the sleep needs of their child. At times we must be tactful and show assertion when it comes to parents and maintaining naptime at daycare.
It is not unusual for parents to ask caregivers to shorten their 18 month old baby's nap while others request that their 3 ½ year old toddler stop taking naps altogether regardless of the fact that he falls asleep during lunch. Their requests are often based upon the fact that their children (the 18 month old just as much as the 3 ½ year old) take a long time to fall asleep at night. Some do not fall asleep until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. When we let children sleep, they sleep well and it is even difficult to wake them up after a 30- minute nap. I doubt that the parents would appreciate being served the same medicine. On the other hand, if a toddler is unable to wake up on his own at 3:00 p.m., he has an obvious sleep debt. The problem is almost always at home. What must we do?
Sleep is an essential need, just like eating. A parent would never think of asking you to eliminate lunch so his child will eat better at dinnertime. So why would we shorten or eliminate his nap if the child is not sleeping well at night? Your role is to fulfill the needs of the children who are under your care, not the parents' desires.
The first thing to do is to inform the parents that if the afternoon nap takes place between 12:30 and 3:00 p.m., it does not interfere with nighttime sleep at all (source: Brigitte Langevin, author of Helping my child sleep). The second thing to do is to ask parents about their bedtime ritual and what happens between the time the child is put to bed and the time he actually falls asleep. When a child only falls asleep at 11:00 p.m., the problem is at home. Often, without realizing it, parents are the ones who prevent the child from falling asleep. Parents' countless interventions to try to get the child to sleep end up keeping the child awake and preventing him from falling asleep. Furthermore, the glass of water, the additional hug and the trip to the bathroom are not necessities. They are tactics which are generally used to stretch the length of time children stay awake and mobilize their parents' attention.
Unfortunately, when a child does not take a nap, he sometimes falls asleep more easily at night because he is simply exhausted and no longer has the energy to use strategies to delay sleep. Certain parents appreciate this method because they do not need to be firm or discipline their child. It goes without saying, bedtime is much less demanding when a child falls asleep, exhausted. The price to pay is that once a child no longer needs to sleep during the day (around 5 years old) and is no longer as exhausted at bedtime, the problems parents faced before...will return! These parents are just putting off the moment when they will have to set firm rules in regards to sleep and bedtime. The more the child grows, the more he will protest and be aware of the parents' limits. The parents' challenge is then much greater.
To support you, I have prepared a letter for parents (to be given when a child enters your daycare) which details the important guidelines which must be respected for daytime sleep. This letter is addressed to parents and signed by myself, a sleep specialist. However, those who might want a more rigorous document may use the policy relating to children's naptime and relaxation period. This document must be signed by both parents and the caregiver. It is in fact a commitment. Both documents are available on educatall.com.
Finally, whether it is for you or parents, the book Helping my child sleep is a source of useful information to overcome difficulties related to sleep.
Brigitte Langevin, author
Speaker and teacher
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