Parents of preschoolers during this time? I bow down to thee. 🙌🏼 Right now is way more difficult than the norm!
Just from my perspective as a Child Sleep Consultant and Former Nanny, I am telling you it is not the same. And I am sure you would agree. What we are experiencing right now is so difficult for many of our little ones.
Generally, when I work with a client who has a preschooler struggling to sleep, the parents typically say something like, "He is hard headed, persistent, stubborn. He has a mind of his own. I doubt he will adjust to this change, but I don't know what else to do." But then within a week or so, the parents jaws are dropping at how well their child has adjusted.
But right now? Right now their world has turned upside down. Right now they aren't getting the social interaction they biologically crave. Right now, they aren't just overtired. Right now they are also stressed.
And on top of all of that? This is an age when they are becoming more aware of the world outside of themselves. When they connect the dots in their own mind to create their own story of what is going on outside of their little bubble.
They "can't go out because people are getting sick and then dying." This was literally the dots connected by a three year old girl of a recent client.
What is going on right now can cause children to react in different ways. You may notice your child is more clingy, persistent, whiney, etc. Perhaps your child seems to be regressing and acting baby-like. You may notice your child seems more defiant and even spiteful. While it SUCKS, this is to be expected from this age given the circumstances we are under.
My clients of the preschool age are experiencing the boundaries being pushed even more than ever. It is taking longer for children with sleep struggles to get back into their old routine than what I normally see. The struggle is REAL!
So, I just want to remind you to set realistic expectations for both yourself and your little ones during this time. You might have to settle for a new norm during this time. Helping your preschooler to sleep better may take longer than usual. Your child may need even more of your attention and outlets for control during the day.
What we are experiencing right now goes against what we humans crave - connection.
Take a deep breath and lean into empathy. This time right now is just as hard, if not harder, on your preschooler.
Snuggle with your little one. Get to eye level and let him know that you see him. Really hear and listen to what he might have to say about how he is feeling. Show that you understand those emotions and maybe even feel them, too. Talk about how you can work together to get through them in a positive way because he has the POWER to control his thoughts and actions.
Mama, it's ok to admit to your child that sometimes life is hard. Your child will feel less alone if he knows you are struggling, too. Talk about the fact that even when life gets hard, you have ways to work through those difficult times. How do you choose to do this?