There’s an assumption that when children get tired, they simply go to sleep.
In fact, it can be a little more complicated than that and both parents and care providers need to be aware of the signs that a child is in need of a snooze.
Tired signs in babies and toddlers – babies
Babies are slightly easier than older children because sometimes, though not always, they’ll be inclined to suddenly ‘crash’ wherever they are.
However, if there’s a lot going on around them, they might find that difficult. So, watch out for:
- the baby seemingly isn’t focusing and is just staring into space;
- they’re sucking their fingers;
- they’ve suddenly stopped feeding;
- tugging on their ears;
- slightly erratic arm and leg movements.
What to do
Again, in the case of babies, the solution is usually simple.
If you can, take them to where they normally sleep. Quieten the surroundings and reduce light through curtains or whatever – though leave a night light on for comfort.
If you’re outside or away from home, that can admittedly be a little more challenging but if you have some of their familiar blankets and smells around, plus are able to improvise a little, your baby will probably doze happily enough.
Tired signs in babies and toddlers –toddlers and pre-school
By the time children have reached around 2-3 years, the signs of tiredness can be harder to spot. That’s partly because they’re growing up but also because they’re learning how to disguise the symptoms. Some children love a snooze but quite a few don’t and will resent it.
So, look for:
- slightly more petulance and possibly aggression (such as fighting with siblings);
- not finishing food they normally enjoy;
- rubbing of eyes;
- demanding constant attention, perhaps combined with increased clinging;
- a loss of interest in their toys.
How to deal with these symptoms
Each child is different.
Some will throw a little crying session at the mere mention of “snooze time” but will still enthusiastically go to recharge their batteries. Some may be very happy to snooze and even ask.
Unfortunately, some may make your life difficult and resist strongly, getting more tired and fractious as they do so.
You’ll develop your own strategies for dealing with all these situations but here are a few ideas that might help:
- quieten things down by putting toys away and switching TVs and games off;
- find a few mins to cuddle and chat with your child. A story might be great too;
- as with babies, take them to where they’d normally sleep;
- remove excess lights and noise. Then stay with them for a minute or two and try another story.
Try to avoid forcing the pace
As we at Read2Grow regularly remind parents, children are no respecters of the averages and ‘norms’ often cited as almost law in child-raising books.
Some children just do not need the same amount of sleep as others. If your child clearly isn’t tired, don’t force them to go to their snoozing place. They’ll simply see it as a punishment and start to fight against it even more.
That’s something that could make your life a lot more difficult in the longer term!