Working with children for years now, I've learned that it's not all about behavior when it comes to sleep. There are so many factors that influence sleep and behavior.
When I was a new mama and reading about sleep, some sleep books out there made me wonder if my daughter wanted to manipulate me into helping her sleep, and what I needed to do was to leave her and teach her that she didn't need me.
The fact of the matter is, she wasn't manipulating me – she was communicating with me. Her body language was communicating with me the best she knew how. The restlessness, the wakefulness, and the hours it was taking her to fall asleep (and back to sleep) I came to understand was her body saying “something is bothering me, mama.”
That “something” ended up being food her body was negatively reacting to. A dream, an allergy test, and isolating foods soon revealed that gluten was acting like caffeine for her = no sleep! It was causing a lot of stress in her body. It took me and my husband a LONG time to LISTEN to what her body was telling us.
In my years of working with children, I've learned that behavior is often the best way to determine what a child is experiencing, physiologically speaking. In other words, behavior is not always just behavior – it has to do with the whole body.
In order to modify behavior we need to look at the whole child and his/her environment:
- Parent-infant communication
- External stress
- Internal stress
….and so much more influence how our child sleep and behave.
It's not you vs. your child; it's you AND your child. You both matter, both of your needs matter, and helping you BOTH thrive IS the key to restful sleep!
So tell me: what most influences your child's behavior? How about your own? Is it hunger, sleep, environment? All of the above?