Checking method for managing sleep problems

Checking method for managing sleep problems

If your child is anxious about going to sleep or you think it may be hard to keep them in their bedroom, then using the 'checking method' may be helpful.

Sleeping sound in primary school children - 'checking' method

If your child is anxious about going to sleep or you think it may be hard to keep them in their bedroom, then using the 'checking method' may be helpful.

The checking method involves going in to your child at regular time intervals to check on them. The purpose of returning to their room is to reassure your child that you are still there and to reassure yourself that your child is ok.

  • after your child has got into bed, say "good night" and leave, but promise to come back and check on them
  • for some children, frequent checking is good – say every 2 minutes
  • for others, less checking works best – say every 5 or 10 or 15 minutes
  • continue to check on your child as long as they are upset, gradually stretching the interval times
  • the checks should be brief (1 minute) and boring - calmly tell your child it's time to go to sleep but don't play any games!

Remember: Try your strategies for a number of nights (3 to 7 days). Being consistent will increase your chances of success with improving your child's sleep patterns. If possible, make sure you and others caring for your child do the same thing as well.

Remember, this is sleep time not play time! If your child tries to play with you, calmly tell them it is sleep time and say you will be back to check on them.

Reward your child in the morning for being able to stay in their own bed at the start of the night.

Thumbnail of 'Checking method' handoutStarship Foundation and the Paediatric Society of New Zealand thank the Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, for making this content available to parents and families.

© Copyright – Centre for Community Child Health at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 2014. Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this content may be reproduced by a process, electronic or otherwise, without the specific written permission of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
 

This page last reviewed 06 July 2017.
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