This time of year can be tough for older kids. Back to school season isn’t particularly pleasant for the whole family in general, but the kids at school tend to get a little strung out before the rest of us sometimes. And some kids just find it hard to wind down and relax, making getting up for school and functioning well that little bit harder still. So how do we help older kids to relax and restore before the next day at school? Perhaps these tips on relaxation for older kids will help…
Kids need sleep!
Often families ask me how to help their older kids to relax and wind down at bedtime too, and I find it’s always important to remind them how important their sleep really is. From the age of around three, kids tend to start dropping their daytime naps, making night time sleep even more crucial. As rough guide, this is how much sleep kids need each night:
- 3 years: up to one hour during the day, 11 hours per night
- 4 years: 11.5 hours per night
- 5 years: 11 hours per night
- 6 years: 10-11 hours per night
- 7 years: 10.5 hours per night
- 8 & 9 years: 10 hours per night
- 11 years+ : 8.5- 9 hours a night
Again, this is just a rough guide, and if you think that your child needs more/ less then adjust bedtimes accordingly. Sleep is so crucial during these years, because it helps to regulate behaviour, concentration and memory skills. If your child doesn’t get enough sleep, you will notice!
So, you know how much sleep your child needs, and why it’s important… but what if they just can’t switch off? It happens to us all, but it does need to be tackled.
Some kids need help to relax, especially after a busy day at school. Here are some tips to help:
- Arrange for quiet time after school. Whether that is a walk in the park, or half an hour curled up with a book- you know your child and what will bring them down if they’re a little high. Try to avoid screen time if you can, so that your child has the opportunity to really switch off and- hopefully- relax
- Teach meditation skills. One of the best ways for your child to relax! Try to organise a relaxing, quiet spot where your child can sit at the end of the day, and help her to spend time focusing her mind and clearing her thoughts. This will take time to do, but there are wonderful CDs available from DinoSnores.
- Encourage your child to tell you three things about their day. This will often be their chance to offload on anything exciting that has happened, but will also be a chance to talk about anything that is bothering them too. Make this a regular part of your day, ahead of bedtime so that if any issues arise they can be sorted out before sleep time.
- Try journalling your day. Some kids respond better to writing down things that have happened during the day, and this can be a great way to keep up a dialogue with your child too.
Support restful sleep
Some children are able to relax fine after school, but once faced with bedtime they find it hard to sleep. If you’ve ever been there yourself, you’ll know how frustrating that can be! Here are some tips on tackling it all:
- Try to limit sleep ins. I know it’s tempting to let your little one catch up the next morning after a restless night, but really all this will do is create a cycle of later sleeping and later waking. No good when you have to be up for school! Routines are important to us all, no matter how old we are so try to stick to the same one throughout weekends and holidays too. It really is the only way for the body clock to regulate.
- If your child wakes and wants to talk, spend five minutes or so with them, but structure it carefully. Ask them to tell you three things about their day, for example. Or ask them to tell you one thing that is on your mind, that you can work through together. Sometimes, if you tell kids to wait until the morning, their sleep can continue to be restless until then.
- Make sure the bedroom is tidy and conducive to sleep. Clutter doesn’t help encourage good sleep, so get your child into the habit of helping to keep it tidy.
- Keep your bedtime routine consistent- bath, story bed works no matter what age the kids are.
- No TV! And no screens at all.
If your child still struggles to sleep when you put her to bed, it may be that she is someone who just needs less sleep than others. Do look out for signs of tiredness the next day though, and if she does display tell tale signs then try the tips above to see if they help. Do get in touch if you need any more help at all!