Sleep issues are a hot topic in the adoption and foster care community. If you familiarise yourselves with what’s at the heart of your children’s sleep disturbances, you can better help them in a compassionate way.
Getting your child to sleep has many benefits. A tired parent can become easily irritated, impatient, and forgetful. A tired child can become irritable, angry, excessively hungry, have a short attention span, and an inability to focus (the list goes on). This can cause problems at home and school.
Let’s look at some simple steps to take:
- Routine – Consistency and schedules are especially important for foster kids. Your child has gone through a lot of change, and routine is essential. Have a calming routine before bed that does not include screen time, rambunctious activity, bright lights, or sugary snacks. Preferably only veggies if they’re hungry. You can choose the most nutritious food your child will eat.
- Rocking – It might sound strange, but rocking children is a great way to calm them – even for older toddlers and young kids. Rocking can be done with any child that can sit in your lap alternatively reading a book in a rocking chair. Rocking before bed will help calm your child.
- Quiet – Try and keep noise in your child’s room to a minimum. If their mind is working overtime, loud noises can keep them alert and make their mind wander. Distracting noises coming from outside their room may make some children wonder what’s going on outside their room. Some children are worried about what’s happening on the other side of the door, and some wonder what they’re missing out on.
- Calming music – Just try playing soft atmospheric music without words. It does that little bit extra to prevent other noises from seeping in to the brain, and provides a meditative calm.
- Night light – Most foster parents think of this one. If your child has fears, a night light can help relieve some fear of the dark. Make sure the light isn’t too bright, and if your child’s taking a nap, be sure that the room is dark enough during the day.
- Scent – there is plenty of research to show that burning essential oils can ease the path to sleep. Try burning high quality essential oils such a lavender, geranium and bergamot. We recommend using an electric oil burner, as open flames can present a fire risk.
It’s important to recognise the child’s background and take what information you can from the case worker. For instance, one foster mum said she let her foster son pick out his own sleeping bag. He’d never slept in a bed so they started with a sleeping bag, where he was comfortable, added a pillow, and then the mattress on the floor, then onto the bed.
If a child is in Foster Care seek one on one advice from your Foster care worker to consider the child’s age, stage of development and trauma history.