Bedtime and routine are big with our middle son. A trigger such as lack of sleep or stepping out of routine causes him to meltdown and explode. So, put the two triggers – bedtime routine – together and we know our focus needs to be sharp, and consistency and follow through will make all the difference.
I've written at length in the past about the various sensory integration tools we use in our home but I have not to address bedtime specifically. How do we make sure bedtime routine works for our son (who has recently been diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder)?
6 Steps to a Calm Bedtime Routine for Your Highly Sensitive Child
Step #1 – Understand You Childs Needs
First and I think this point goes without saying but you need to understand your child's needs. Doh, right? Well, not so much. What your child needs is different from what my child needs. Maybe your child responds well to a light sheet, whereas my child needs a heavier blanket and needs to be surrounded on all sides by pillows, the floor, and/or a human being (e.g. me, his brother, or his dad). So, study him before jumping into what you think he needs to get sleep.
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Step #2 – Create Nighttime Ground Rules & Schedule Together
Create rules together, post the rules & schedule in a common area to which your child has access, and stick to these rules. Create half hour by half hour, shorter time periods if need be.
Step #3 – Offer Mulitple Time Cues
Following up on the night time schedule and sticking to it, offer time cues throughout the evening. If your child has 30 minutes to read or watch a show, let him know “you have 30 minutes”, then “20 minutes to go”, then “10 minutes”, and so on. This approach is uncomfortable for me. I feel like I am nagging but a rigid child like my child needs it to stay calm and in control. Eventually he'll regulate on his own but, for now, he needs my guidance.
Step #4 – Bring on the Weighted Blanket & the Chillow
These two items rocked our world upon discovery. My son needs to feel the weight of his blankets. The benefits of weighted blankets are backed by research and medical professionals. We have this weighted blanket and are absolutely in love. There are many options out there to purchase a weighted blanket such as Magic Weighted Blanket and Mosaic Weighted Blankets. The other piece to the sleeping comfortably puzzle for my son is the Chillow. You read that correctly. This product is a godsend. Does your child request that you turn the pillow over or that he needs a new pillow? Yes, I can relate. My son always wanted a “cold pillow”. Thank goodness for the Chillow.
Step #5 – Explore Essential Oils
Using our diffuser is part of our night time routine. Many oils not only smell lovely but offer calm. My kids love smelling the oils. We've seen positive impacts with our sons. Read more about our essential oils journey. Plus there are all sorts of fun activities for kids using essential oils.
Step #6 – Integrate Qigong Massage
I discovered Qigong Massage last year and it quickly became one of our go-to calming routines. Many people use Chinese energy massage to help children with sensory issues. Both my sons love to get this “tapping massage” as they call it. It involves 12 movements and takes about 15 minutes. I highly recommend this book on Qigong Massage for Children. It comes with a DVD and is easy to read. I feel positive about what the impact will bring their bodies.
I hope you found this post helpful! Let me know how it goes for you!
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This post is part of a monthly series called Parenting Children with Special Needs. This month's topic is sleep and you can find the other posts regarding this topic below.
When Nightmares Become Reality | Every Star is Different
When Parent Sleep Deprivation Becomes Deadly | STEAM Powered Family
Sleep Solutions for Special Needs Parents | My Home Truths
The Sleep-Deprived Mom’s Guide to Survival | Life Over C’s
Sleep Solutions for Children with Sensory Needs | The Chaos and The Clutter
Sleep Strategies for Kids with Autism or Sensory Needs | And Next Comes L
The One Overwhelming Thing that Keeps Me Up at Night | Kori at Home
Seasons of Sleep for Special Needs Parents | 3 Dinosaurs
To the Exhausted Mom that Never Sleeps | Natural Beach Living