Why Kids Don’t Want to Sleep

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Darkness is traditionally the time that bad things happen. Why? Because we can’t see as well at night, and because there are shadows and sounds that we pay attention to during the day.

Any fears or anxieties that your child may have seem to be concentrated at bedtime. This may occur because it is the first time that your child had a chance to stop, feel and think.

If there are significant and legitimate concerns, make a date to discuss them during the light of day, when issues and emotions seem more manageable.

Fears, separation anxiety and issues of control are all legitimate and should be taken seriously.

Separation Anxiety

The most common source of fear and anxiety is the act of separation. Traditionally it is considered a problem between mother and child; although there may be other complicating factors in the child’s life that can cause separation anxiety. Saying goodnight can be difficult for kids who are stressed or distraught.

Letting Go

For kids who need to be in control it is hard to let go of the day. Such children are afraid they are missing something if they are not awake to witness and document all activities. Sometimes they are not able to trust that everything will be fine if they are not alert and involved.

Most kids who are overly stimulated, over tired or realistically anxious will not be able to fall asleep or stay asleep. If this happens occasionally then use Dr. Lipkins’ Sleep Tip.

If sleep problems are chronic or acute, and if they do not resolve, it is helpful to consult a specialist such as a psychologist or pediatrician. However, sometimes children and parents get into a bad routine around bedtime. It is vital to avoid power struggles around sleep and therefore good sleep hygiene is important to establish. To do so parents may need to set limits.

Setting Limits

It is important for infants and babies to soothe themselves to sleep, and the same is true for children, tweens, teens, and adults. It is helpful to establish bedtime rituals which ease the transition from day to night. The ritual should be appropriate for your child’s age and should give each child some alone time with a parent so that the child can show feelings. The ritual should have a beginning and an end.

At a certain point you will leave to allow your child to go to sleep all by himself. If necessary, reward your child for being able to go to sleep in his own bed, staying in bed all night and waking up in his own bed in the morning. Consider using Dr. Lipkins’ reward chart…Be A Star.

Dr. Lipkins’ Sleep Tip

Empty Your Backpack

Imagine that you want to clean out a backpack. Turn it upside down and shake. Let everything fall out, all the crumbs, crumbled papers, half-eaten candy, everything.

Now imagine doing the same thing to your mind. Let everything out.

Help your child to make a list of the things that they are thinking about. Write down everything that is important.

Keep the list near your child’s bed in case she remembers something else. Just add to it, and remind her that she no longer needs to keep worrying because her ideas are safely stored on her list.

Now allow mind and body to relax.

True Story

One day I was on a T.V. talk show A doctor was a guest and her 7 year old daughter had never, ever slept alone. Turns out that mom, the doctor, knew that allowing her child to sleep in her bed (known as co-sleeping) was interfering with her own sleep, as well as her husband’s and daughter’s. But, she did not know how to change the habit. I sent her my Be A Star rewards chart, and 5 days later I got an email saying that her daughter was sleeping through the night in her own bed…and loving it!



Be A Star is a simple, effective tool that gives parents a consistent, structured and successful method of discipline. Children actually see that they have control of their own behavior. For ages 4-12.

If you act as if there is something to fear, your child will pick up the cue as an indication that maybe there really is something scary after all.

Therefore, when she complains of robbers reassure her of the safety of her house and that you would never let her be in a dangerous place. Make her feel secure. Your own sense of security and calmness is one of the most important factors.