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Dealing with a child's sleep problems during divorce

The stress and anxiety of parental divorce can have serious physical and emotional impacts on kids. One common manifestation of this anxiety is difficulty sleeping. Getting enough sleep is essential for the growth and development of a child. Therefore, it's important for parents to work together -- regardless of how frayed their own relationship may be -- to help their child who isn't sleeping (or who perhaps is sleeping too much in an effort to escape the stress they're feeling),

If your child is dividing their time between two homes now, it's important for both parents to work to establish similar pre-bedtime routines and sleep schedules for them. Depending on your child's age, this might include scheduling one or more daily naps.

Develop a bedtime routine that helps calm down your child before it's time to turn out the lights. This might include reading to them or simply talking. It might help to include the parent they aren't with. For example, they may sleep better if they can call or video chat with that parent.

Help your child feel safe and comfortable. That might include making sure their room has a night light and that their favorite stuffed animals are close at hand.

You and your co-parent may want to start a sleep journal to track your child's sleep schedule and naps. Co-parenting apps let you create shared journals that minimize the amount of direct communication you have. You can detail specific issues you've had with getting your child to sleep and things you've found that help them sleep.

Remember that your focus should be on your child's health and well-being -- not on blaming your co-parent for the problem or trying to show that your child only has an issue when they're not with you.

Children's anxiety often increases if they aren't able to talk to their parents about their fears or concerns -- or if they feel like they have to put on a brave face. That's why it's essential for parents to take time to talk to their kids throughout the separation and divorce. By providing regular reassurance and answering their questions, you can ease many of their fears.

If you believe that a change to your parenting plan or parenting time schedule might help your child's sleep issues, talk to your attorney about the various options you might want to explore.

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