Busy schedules are putting children's health at risk
'Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,' says child therapist
Busy schedules, too many worries and a lack of sleep could be threatening the health of your children, one expert is warning parents.
Vancouver-based child and family therapist Michele Kambolis says she often hears from children who say they are working with tutors or doing homework late into the night.
"Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind," she says.
But getting enough sleep is crucial to a child's development, Kambolis says.
"It's a non-negotiable part of their health. Children who are sleep-deprived are at risk for a whole host of problems including difficulties at school."
Cultural attitudes to sleep play a big role, she notes.
"We seem to live in a culture that doesn't value sleep in the way that it should," she says.
"Our lifestyles are more hurried and more worried and a lot of busy, busy activity is falling into the time of day when children really need brain rest.
"We're focusing on high productivity and we know that children match us. They match our choice and our behaviour.
"It's really important to create a clear delineation between the busyness of the day and nighttime when children can wind down, lean into our care and talk about whatever worries have arisen throughout the day."
Some of her tips include:
- Cut back on children's screen time an hour and a half before bed.
- If nighttime wetting is a problem, help keep kids dry by using absorbent bedtime pants.
- Address dietary issues. Caffeine and sugar late in the day makes it very difficult for kids to sleep at night.
- Practice ways to calm the mind and body in order to facilitate sleep.
- Communicate with teachers, day care providers or other caregivers about how the child is functioning through the day to see if a lack of sleep is causing concern.
Listen to the interview with Michele Kambolis on CBC's The Early Edition: