Sleep Rules- “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”

I just received an excerpt from an article written by Dr. Marc Weissbluth’s book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.  In it he outlines several different methods to help you and your child get a good night’s sleep.  I will pass on other ideas as the year goes on:

“Sleep Rules” are a strategy Dr. Weissbluth created that usually works with children over 2 ½ to 3 yrs old.

He suggests that to get your children to use “Sleep Rules” you first must create an elaborate poster that outlines these following “Sleep Rules.”

  1. Stay in bed.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Stay very quiet
  4. Go to sleep

And, if you choose, you can use an alarm clock make sure it is set on a channel that softly plays classical music.  If you do that you can add a fifth rule.

5.    Stay in bed until you hear the music

Be sure to use your child’s name in the title of the chart.  Let your child help make the poster by decorating it with whatever he likes.  Discuss the rules as you create the poster. If you feel it would be helpful, draw pictures or cut out pictures from magazines for anything that might be unclear to your child.  Hang the poster where it can be seen and it can act as a reminder.

Next comes the rewards and restrictions of privileges:

Talk with your child to decide a reward for following his “Sleep Rules” chart – stickers, bite-sized pieces of candy – anything small and motivating to your child that you are comfortable with.  Place the rewards in a clear container somewhere the child can see it, but can not reach it.

The consequence for not following the rules should never restrict your child from creative things such as books, music, art or playing outside.  You could possibly remove a toy or some other privilege for the day.

Each morning your child has followed the rules, praise the child for doing so, and then give your child the treat that was promised.

For days when your child does not follow the rules (and there will most certainly be those days) discuss the rules that weren’t followed and implement the restriction.

In another article I will share Dr. Weissbluth’s theory on something he calls the, “Silent Return.”

I hope none of you need this sleep advice, but if so, this might just be “what the doctor ordered!”


Pam Deutsch