Jenny Stephenson, of HappySleepers
Under eye baggage weighing you down?
If, like me, you know every squeaky floorboard in your child’s bedroom, if you’re still perfecting the ninja roll out of the room without waking him, then this next blog is for you.
Bedtime in our house is pretty straightforward usually – we say goodnight, shut the door and creep downstairs. But once in a while our toddler turns terror and bedtime becomes a challenge or we all go without sleep.
When he’s like that there’s nothing I want to hear least than “let him cry it out.” I want to understand what he’s anxious about, why he can’t sleep and how I can help.
Cue – Stoke Newington mother of two and child psychologist Jenny Stephenson, who recently co-founded Happy Sleepers – a team of chartered child psychologists offering expert help and advice on sleep, from newborns through to teenage years.
She said: “My interest in supporting families with children’s sleep difficulties grew after having children of my own and experiencing the impact of lack of sleep on the functioning and well-being of my whole family. Never to be forgotten!
“The approaches and techniques used in my practice as a child psychologist were useful in understanding and managing sleep as a behaviour and I found a way forward with my own children. I started out helping friends and family and my professional interest in childhood sleep and sleep management and passion for supporting families in this area has continued to evolve since.”
As an applied psychologist, Jenny is very interested in the impact of lack of quality sleep on our children, including daytime behaviour, cognitive functioning, learning and academic performance.
She added: “As parents we can also identify with the evidence of how lack of sleep impacts on our well-being and mental health, relationships with others and our parenting capacity.”
The common sleep difficulties HappySleepers work with include difficulty going to sleep and maintaining sleep through the night, difficulty gaining sufficient daytime sleep, early waking, difficulty adhering to boundaries set around bedtime and anxiety related sleep difficulties.
“The good news is that most sleep difficulties in children are behavioural and with the right understanding and approach they can be much improved”, added Jenny.
“Some of the important areas to think about as a parent are establishing a consistent bedtime routine, getting the timings of sleep right, looking at how you get your child to sleep, the sleep environment and responding consistently to your child when working to bring about change.
“Reflecting on your own thoughts, feelings and behaviour can also be helpful, along with support and coping strategies to manage. A basic understanding of children’s sleep, developmental norms and how these patterns change over time is also helpful.”
HappySleepers offer a range of packages to support families in person, on the phone or over the internet.