Dear Team Backup,
My little girl refuses to sleep through the night.
She whines and complains and gets up several times through the night. And has a hard time waking up too.
She likes to watch TV and play video games before bedtime and have a snack. We don't want her to get into a habit of requiring that we fall asleep together. What bedtime routines work best?
Orphans often come from chaos and need to learn "calm". You can create a peaceful and relaxing environment by eliminating stimulants at bedtime. When the sun begin to set, slow things down and begin to turn off the TV and games. Turn on soothing music. Read together. Dim the lights. Provide a night light.
If necessary, put her mattress on the floor so she knows no scary monsters are under her bed. Tell her, "scary monsters are not real, because they are only in our head, not under the bed."
Provide healthy snacks that aid in sleep. Like warm milk. Talk to your doctor about "melatonin" a health food supplement that is sold in a chewable peppermint flavored tablet. Use it occasionally to help her feel drowsy when she is anxious and struggling to fall asleep.
Consider aroma therapy, lavender is a calming fragrance.
Examine your bedtime routines. Kids thrive with structure and knowing what is next. Especially orphans since their world was filled with lots of "unknowns". So they grapple with many fears. Post a schedule and allow her to help fill the time slots with enjoyable activities she will look forward to. This will provide incentives to sleep and wake up for.
Give her an alarm clock to set herself and help her learn to wake up herself instead of depending on you to wake her up. You may help by creating noise or lively music in the mornings and natural sunlight and fresh air in her room.
Playing and exercising during the day - helps us to expend energy and naturally get tired at the end of the day. Walking, jumping, skipping, spinning, swinging, rocking, is all very soothing to the brain. Try doing this in the afternoon or early evening leading up to bedtime.
Sometimes she may simply need you to snuggle or rock her or massage her back or feet or scalp. Many orphans did not get this kind of bonding time with their parents, so it may require you go the extra mile in providing this nurture for quite awhile until she adjusts.
We pray together. It's an opportunity for our child to express what is on his heart and put it in God's hands. You may pray, sing or speak blessings on her so she feels reassured that she is not alone and all is good in her world.