Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Teaching Sleep Manners with The Good Night, Sleep Tight Sleep Chart

Guest post by Christina Gantcher:

Is bedtime a battle with your preschooler? It doesn’t need to be but our preschool aged children have so much to explore and learn everyday that it can easily turn into several rounds of 20 questions. Many times when a parent approaches me for sleep help and their child is between 3 and 5 (sometimes even 2 ½) I will say it’s time for “sleep manners” which I learned through my own experience with author Kim West, best known as “The Sleep Lady.” I love the idea of teaching children the skill of sleep and during the preschool years it’s really about manners and a skill, not punishment and judgment.

When parents look for a way to get their child to cooperate at bedtime we discuss the role of sleep manners. Just like we teach our children to say “please” and “thank you” we can teach them they need to learn sleep manners. Getting into bed at an appropriate time should not be an on-going negotiation; it should be a matter-of-fact event. Going to sleep should be a calm, peaceful routine, not one of struggle and heart strings being pulled (“just one more drink”, “just one more book!”).

A sleep chart, like Victoria Chart Company’s “Good Night, Sleep Tight” is ideal for helping kids learn sleep manners. It’s colorful and easy-to-use, complete with great stickers, and a list of appropriate expectations for our preschool aged children at bedtime. Some of those behaviors are “I’m getting into bed” and “I fell asleep by myself.” It’s important that there are morning manners too, like “stayed in bed until it was time to get up”, a common difficulty for young children in beds, able to get up at hours adults would not consider morning.

As a sleep coach I help parents understand that our children actually learn to sleep. If they don’t learn this skill independently, with something or someone doing it for them, they will always need that thing, action or person to go to sleep. As a child gets older it is important for them to understand their own role in getting a good night’s sleep. Part of self-care, like feeding oneself or learning to get dressed, is taking responsibility for falling asleep unassisted.

A sleep chart can be a helpful reminder of routine for both parent and child at bedtime and in the morning. The chart itself is best put into action during a pre-set family meeting where your child learns about the new tool and how it is going to help them learn their sleep manners. The conversation at the family meeting should be a positive, upbeat one, asking for your child’s ideas about what good manners might be and focusing on the rewards (a fun outing/experience with a parent, not necessarily a toy) after successful sleep manners for several days, and eventually weeks. Every morning you can review the previous night and how things went. This way both you and your child can stay consistent about new good manners and see where there’s room for improvement.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep!

Christina Gantcher is a licensed and certified Gentle Sleep Coach. For more information go to

Order your copy of the Good Night Sleep Tight chart from The Victoria Chart Company, and 'Like" our Facebook page to save 15% and to download your child's Sleep Certificate.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Helping children get healthy sleep

As moms, we all try to make sure our children get a healthy diet. But have you ever thought about whether your child is getting healthy sleep? Sleep is sleep, isn’t it?
The quality of children’s sleep can vary just as the quality of their diets do. Healthy sleep is as important as good nutrition and exercise for normal growth and development. Sleep also impacts daytime mood and functioning. If your child has poor grades or other difficulties in school, it’s possible that could be traced back to lack of sleep.

What makes sleep healthy?
Healthy sleep requires both enough sleep and good-quality sleep. Let’s look at quantity first. There are many reasons your child might not be getting enough sleep. They include childhood fears, sleep disorders such as restless legs syndrome, and environmental situations, such as noise or poor schedules that don’t provide for enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is different for each age:
- Newborns: 12-16 hours in total in short sleeping periods.
- Infants, toddlers and preschoolers: 11-14 hours, including naps.
- Kindergartners to 8th graders: 9-10 hours a night.
- 9-12th graders: 9.25 hours a night.
Some sleep disorders fragment a child’s sleep. That means the child appears to get enough sleep time, but the sleep is poor quality and won’t be restorative for the day ahead. These disorders include obstructive sleep apnea and periodic limb movement disorder.
How can you help your child sleep?
Try these steps:
1. Monitor the hours your child sleeps - not the hours in bed.
2. Provide a consistent, soothing bedtime routine, including a "wind down" time.
3. Have your child avoid stimulating activities before sleep such as video games, texting, TV, or aggressive exercise.
4. Caffeine is a stimulant. Limit soft drinks and chocolate in your child’s diet (and coffee, too, for teens).
5. Do not provide a TV or computer in your child’s room. If your teen has sleep issues, insist that the laptop, cell phone, iPad or other electronic devices be used somewhere besides the bedroom. I know that’s not a fun proposition, but your teen will feel better after sleeping well.
If that’s not enough
If your child is unable to sleep an adequate amount night after night, is regularly very groggy in the morning after sufficient sleep, or is difficult to wake up, it may be worth further investigation with your child’s health care provider or a sleep specialist.
Most children and teens with sleep disorders aren’t obviously sleepy during the day but may be hyperactive, inattentive, or have difficulty with focus or memory. Sleep-deprived kids may also show mood swings and aggression. You may discover that your child’s problem behavior can be changed with better sleep.
Dr. Jeannine Gingras is founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine. Gingras has more than 20 years of experience in children's sleep problems and has also evaluated hundreds of preterm and term infants for sleep apnea and SIDs monitoring. Learn more at or

To help create a soothing bedtime routine as suggested by Dr Gingras  try using our Good Night Sleep Tight Chart available from our website at  It provides a step by step routine with tips and guidelines to help you give your child a healthy nights sleep and for you an evening to unwind.

A great article published in The Charlotte Observer by Dr. Jeannine Gingras founder of Gingras Sleep Medicine in Charlotte and Concord. A nationally recognized expert in sleep disorders who practices sleep medicine exclusively, she is double board-certified in sleep medicine and is also board-certified in pediatrics and in neonatal-perinatal medicine.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Confessions of a mother: I bribe my kids

Well, it is not often you run into an article that talks about bribing kids! I thought that I would share it with you. Thanks to  Lesley S Smith a contributor for Yahoo.UK & Ireland for her article entitled Confessions of a mother. Hope that you enjoy it!

Having already touched on the issue of spoiling our children, I am well aware that making a case for using bribery to get good child behaviour is a topic that is uppermost in almost every parent's mind.
I am not ashamed to say that I am happy to use bribery for the greater good, and to get better behaviour wherever we go. With a special needs child to care for, who will never respond to being told to "behave," alternative methods had to be found to ensure he could fit in with society.
There's a vast difference between the children who get everything that they want, whenever they want, and the children of parents who use a little coaxing and blatant bribery to get their kids to do what they want.
Let's break down the "spoiled children" barrier to look at the bribery versus spoiling issue, and why I would say that planned bribery is good for our families.
It's a name thing
Bribery in context is absolutely no different to the methods that keep getting paraded in front of us to follow. Mixed in with "Positive Parenting," "Reward Charts," "Chores for Cash," and many more. All in all, they're exactly the same thing. The child does what you ask, and at the end of it all there is a reward.
The spoiled child
A spoiled child is more likely to be the whining, winging, fluttery eyed mini person that refuses to leave a store without the next "in" thing, and is determined to wear mum down to the point of frazzled hair, zero fingernails and a permanently fixed, but false grin and bear it smile.
The spoiled child may have every style of computer console going, with every game known to man available. They might have a cupboard full of expensive goodies that they have no respect for, and treat their parents as walking banks. They could scream the house, or shop down if they don't get what they want, as they know their parents will break at some point.
The bribed child
Bribery of children is ingrained in our society. Our teachers use this behaviour strategy for children by promising stars at the end of each day. They give out golden time if children do what they are asked to help and do the job well. Extra treats are often dished out for children who help others.
What does bribery teach our children?
We live in a trade bartering society. We barter for food using money, we trade babysitting chores with friends, and we do car shares with friends to avoid doing every single run. Our children watch us barter with our friends and family from the beginning. There's nothing new about parents bribing kids.
Watching activities like mum bake a cake to take to a play date teaches our children that what we do has a direct affect on how we are treated, and how we are seen by others. If we do something for someone else, they are likely to do something back for us.
Family bartering
Bribing for good behaviour, otherwise known as positive parenting, is just part of family bartering. When my children come home after working hard and gaining some recognition for good behaviour where they have been struggling, I treat them to something nice, but little. A small treat for doing the right thing never did anyone any harm.
I never promise things that I can't deliver on, as that totally undermines the whole point of getting a result. I keep bribes small, but meaningful. If I am going out anywhere that I need the boys to behave, I buy them chewing gum. I rarely let them have it, so when I do hand it over, it's a real treat to get.
Bribing all the time would be pointless. My kids would then see it as something to be expected every day, so I keep the bribery to a minimum and the bribes small. A packet of fruit pastilles may be the prize for cleaning their rooms and helping nicely with the shopping. I've met people who think that kids should do that sort of thing for nothing and be grateful they have a parent to feed them. Without any experience of bartering, how do our kids grow up and learn to respect the trade based world we live in?
Yes, my kids know that they can work with me to get something they want. I'm ok with that. If the kids want some sweeties, we sometimes sit down and work out what they can do as a trade off, and everybody is happy.

We hope that this this has given you some incite into how bribing your kids can be a positive expereince for all concerned. To see a range of our reward charts, check out our website at For coupons and free downloads go to our Facebook page at

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


We are very focused on children and sleep and found this article released by Travelodge in the UK. In their research it found that traditional bedtime rituals are becoming a thing of the past, with 67 per cent of children missing out on a bedtime story. UK parents are in desperate need for sleep schooling as video games, mobile phones and TV turn children into zombies -

Up to two thirds of children in the UK are not getting enough sleep - with 74 per cent actually getting less sleep than the amount recommended for adults - according to new research released today.

The Travelodge Child Sleep Study, based on the sleep patterns of over 2,000 children aged between six and 15 years, reveals that the average child does not go to bed until 11.20pm. Chronic levels of sleep deprivation are affecting children’s ability to learn and develop, with over three quarters (79 per cent) saying they find it difficult to concentrate at school. Eight out of ten (82 per cent) of children who took part in the study reported extreme daytime tiredness and over a quarter (26 per cent) admitted to falling asleep in class at least once a week.

The research found that nearly half of children do not follow a regular bedtime routine and do not go to bed at the same time each night. 60 per cent of kids said they felt more ‘grown up’ if they were allowed to stay up longer.

Traditional bedtime rituals are a thing of the past, with 67 per cent of children missing out on a bedtime story. Instead, children are falling asleep to television shows, computer games or DVDs. More than half (56 per cent) said they stay up late playing computer games, browsing the internet, texting their friends and watching television. 69 per cent of children play on a games console every evening, and 62 per cent watch You Tube every night. Some admitted to staying up till 3am or 4am playing on their consoles, whilst others said they had been up since 5am doing the same.

This pre-bedtime activity is turning British children into living zombies, and as a result young Britons appear to be going through life “stoned” because they sacrifice rest in favour of spending more hours at their computer or games console.

These bad bedtime habits mean 62 per cent of children regularly find it difficult to sleep.
The Travelodge Child Sleep Study also highlighted issues around the quality of children’s sleep. Child sleep problems are widespread, with 77 per cent regularly suffering from disorders such as sleepwalking, nightmares, snoring, restless legs and talking in their sleep.
Further findings from the study showed that parents have no idea of the recommended levels of sleep for children or the direct effect of lack of sleep on physical and mental health. Experts suggest children need between 10-12 hours of sleep a night to reach their full potential, but 74 per cent of parents thought 7 hours were sufficient.

Dr Pat Spungin, child psychologist and family life specialist, said: "I agree there is very little information available to parents about the importance of a good night's sleep. Parents should be concerned about the effects of sleep deprivation on their children, as lack of sleep has a negative effect on a child's mood, concentration and attention. Research also shows that children who are sleep deprived do less well academically, show more problem behaviour and have lower levels of social skills.

“Scientific evidence shows that adequate night-time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and regular exercise for children to develop. With lack of sleep linked to poor academic performance, behavioural problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obesity, these research findings are alarming.”

Of the 2,000 parents also surveyed as part of the Travelodge Child Sleep Study, 40 per cent said their children did not understand the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep and nearly half (47 per cent) said bedtime was a cause of arguments with their children. To avoid tearful tantrums a quarter of parents admitted to bribing their children to go to bed, using sweets, toys and even money as an incentive.

Two thirds of parents were unaware of the link between sleep deprivation and child obesity, and three quarters of parents were unaware of the association with drug and alcohol abuse in later life.

Whilst 79 per cent of parents said teaching children about the benefits of a good night’s sleep was important, over half (55 per cent) feel there is inadequate support and advice to help parents fulfil this duty. 56 per cent of parents believe the importance of sleep should be taught in schools to help address the problem.

In a bid to tackle child sleep deprivation, Travelodge has launched a ‘Sleep School’ to help raise awareness of the issue and provide parents with expert guidance and advice. A free downloadable ‘School Kid Slumber Guide’ is available for parents and teachers alike at (The guide can be found in the news section on the site)

Shakila Ahmed, Travelodge spokeswoman, said: “As a ‘retailer of sleep’, we found the results of our Child Sleep Study very worrying. It is evident that parents need help in sleep schooling and we believe our ‘Sleep School’ is a much-needed step in the right direction and will help support both parents and teachers in communicating the value of a good night’s sleep to schoolchildren.”

Listed below are the sleeping guidelines for children and tips to help parents ensure their children are getting a good night’s sleep:

2 to 3 years 10.5 to 12.5 hours
4 to 5 years 12 hours
6 years 11.5 hours
7 to 11 years 9.5 to 11.5 hours

1. Establish a regular time for bed each night and do not vary from it
2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, give your child a warm bath or shower
3. Make bedtime fun – read your child a story
4. Do not give your child any food or drinks with caffeine prior to bedtime
5. Avoid giving your child a large meal before bedtime
6. Make after dinner playtime a relaxing time as too much activity close to bedtime can keep children awake
7. Exercise should be included in your child’s day to help them sleep well
8. There should be no TV or music playing while your child is going to sleep
9. Ensure the temperature in the bedroom is comfortable
10. Make sure the noise level in the house is low

We have produced the Good Night Sleep Tight Chart, which can help parents establish bedtime routines and enable their children to get the sleep the whole family needs. Available in the UK , the USA., Canada and Australia.