When children experience anxiety, stress or any kind of emotional issues, they often have sleep problems. It’s not uncommon for children to develop these problems as their parents divorce.
Sleep issues can manifest as the inability to fall or stay asleep, oversleeping and/or having nightmares. Some children revert to behaviors they already outgrew, like bedwetting, needing to sleep with the light on or being afraid to sleep alone.
These problems can be compounded when the kids divide their time between their parents’ homes. Certainly, shared custody is best for most children and parents. However, when you have a child who experiences any kind of sleep disorder, it’s essential for co-parents to work together to help their child get back to getting a good night’s sleep.
Consistency is crucial
Having consistent bedtime routines in both your homes can help significantly. That means going to bed and getting up at the same time regardless of where they are.
If your child still sleeps with a favorite toy or doll – or just likes to have them nearby – try to have duplicates, or let them bring them when they transition between homes. If they have favorite books, music, night lights, pajamas or bedding, try to make those consistent as well.
What if you and your co-parent can’t work together?
If you and your co-parent don’t communicate well, you might consider starting an online sleep journal. Many parenting apps give you a place to do this. That way you both can track your child’s sleep issues and determine what works and what doesn’t.
Remember that this isn’t a contest to see where your child sleeps better. You want them to get a good night’s sleep no matter where they are spending the night.
If this is becoming a significant problem or your co-parent is unwilling to work with you, you may want to consider adding provisions to your parenting plan to help enforce consistent bedtime routines. If that’s not the problem, therapy might help your child work through their issues so they aren’t following them to bed every night.