If you talk to any new parent, “sleeping like a baby” is a laughable expression. Since even getting six hours of sleep is damaging to your health, many parents are left craving naps at work. It turns out that getting a good night’s sleep might be just as important for little ones as it is for mom and dad. A new Australian study published in the British Journal of Educational Psychology found that kids who have trouble staying down for the night also struggle to control themselves in the classroom. But kids that sooth themselves back to sleep have fewer tantrums in preschool and beyond.
Queensland University of Technology researchers monitored the sleep behavior of 2,880 newborns for over six years. Babies that couldn’t settle down, or exhibited “escalating behavioral sleep problems,” throughout their young lives also experienced hyperactivity, poor self-control and tantrums — often at school.
It can be heartbreaking to leave your upset toddler to get back to sleep on their own. If you can’t get past all the tears, know it’s for their own good. “If these sleep issues aren’t resolved by the time children are five years old, than they are at risk of poorer adjustment to school,” Dr. Kate Williams from the university’s Faculty of Education for School of Early Childhood said in a news release. That means a certain future of behavior-related parent-teacher conferences. And that’s worth crying over.
So if you want to raise well-adjusted kiddos, follow Williams’ advice: Stop your bad sleeping habits with your child, like lying down with them all the time and letting them into your bed. “It’s really important to give children a sense of skill so they can do these things themselves,” she said.
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