My grandson is five years old. I take care of him. His parents work and come back by around 8:30 or 9 pm. My grandson relaxes in the evening with cartoons, has dinner, and waits for parents to come home, then goes to bed by 10:30 pm. In last few months, he wakes up many times in the middle of night. Sometimes he is very scared. Sometimes he just wants to sleep with parents. My friends say he may be
missing his parents. What can I do please?
– Worried Father
There could be several reasons for your grandson’s behaviour of waking up in the middle of the night.
As you suggested, he could be missing his parents. He could also be going through some stress at school. Is he able to verbalize his feelings? Is he getting a chance to spend quality time with his parents without the stress of homework? Have there been changes in his behaviour during other times of the day? It may also be a good idea to talk to his teacher to know what she may be observing.
Two other areas that you could look into are:
Adequate Sleep: As a five-year-old, your grandson should get 10.5 – 11.5 hours of sleep every night. Is he falling short on that because of a late bed time? Consistently falling short on sleep can cause him to feel more stressed and less able to deal with the regular stress of the day and this could in turn be manifesting Ask the Expert as waking during the night.
TV Viewing: Is he getting too much television time and/or watching programs that are age inappropriate? While they may be cartoons on a kid’s channels, not all programmes are optimal for five-year olds. There is plenty of violence, references to ghosts and other unsavoury characters that may be scary to your grandson and could impact his sleep/dreams. I would encourage you to reduce his TV time, ensure he is watching only age appropriate TV and avoid exposure to TV during the last hour before bed time.
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I have a question regarding my four year- old daughter. She is eating the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month or more. For example, she has been eating just aaloo paranthas for nearly three weeks now for all meals, before that it was only scrambled egg with bread which lasted for a month. I know she is not getting a balanced diet but I am unable to change her habit. She has been doing this since she was three. Is it common? How can I change this habit?
-Worried Mom, Mumbai
Your daughter’s behaviour is not uncommon. Young kids have a tendency to gravitate towards familiar foods. Further, as they approach four years of age, children tend to assert their independence – sometimes reflected in their food demands. Since your daughter has been doing this since age of three, I would need to develop a detailed case history to identify the root causes that have led to this habit.
identify the root causes that have led to this habit.
However, I can provide a few simple guidelines that you could start practicing on a consistent basis to help her to start being more relaxed around food:
• At four years of age your daughter should be able to eat the same food as the rest of the family. Avoid making a separate meal just for her.
• Have one familiar dish available at the table for every meal.
• Offer a healthy snack between meals.
• Avoid milk or juices before or with a meal. Offer them as a snack in between meals instead.
• Have at least one meal together as a family.
• Avoid the urge to prepare her comfort food if she refuses to eat what is available at the table.
• Don’t force her to eat anything…the urge to resist will always surface when we try to coax a young child to eat.
• Make meal times a positive and pleasant experience for your child. Try talking about the day instead of pointing out how little she may be eating.
• Be very conscious of how she hears you describing her food habits to others. Always stick to the positives, avoid mentioning the negatives even in passing.
• Talk to your paediatrician to rule out any food allergies and check if she needs to take a vitamin supplement.
• Be a good role model for your child. Be aware of how you and other family members react to food especially new foods or the ones that are not your favourite. Our children are always observing us and learning from our behaviour.
• Practice changed methods for at least a month to start seeing results.
Note that the suggested steps don’t involve forcing the child, but rather encouraging her to be open to learning and discovering the exciting world of food. Good luck!