Introducing the Overtired Series - examining what being overtired looks like in littles and how to stop it from happening.
In my line of work, this question comes up constantly: "How do I tell if my child is overtired? They never want to go to bed when I tell them to." or "It takes forever for my child to fall asleep at night, are they really tired?"
I hear you and completely feel your pain.
As adults, when we are tired, we exhibit, what we feel are typical, behaviors showing our fatigue. We generally start quieting down, not moving as much, start doing quiet activities, find yourself craving a snack, and get ourselves ready for bed. This makes sense right? When it's time to rest, we start doing things that helps us get ready for rest. Kids? Not so much.
While it does happen, it is pretty rare that a child who is tired will just quietly start getting themselves ready for bed and put themselves in bed with nothing more than a sweet hug and kiss from Mom and Dad and its lights out.
Wouldn't that be nice though?
But alas, the more common scenario is that you find yourself practically roping your child to bed, even if it is painfully obvious that they are ready to go to sleep. But here lies the rub. It is not always obvious that kids are tired, and parents can actually be fooled into thinking that their child isn't tired, when in fact, their child is overtired and should have been put in bed a while ago.
10 Typical Signs of Overtiredness in Children
1. Extreme hyperactivity
2. Behaving irritably or crabby
3. Constantly requesting snacks, feeds, or food
4. Rubbing their eyes, excessive yawning, and pulling their ears
5. Clumsiness or more prone to accidents than normal
6. Fighting harder to resist going to sleep at nap and bedtime
7. Catnaps (usually in between 20-30 minutes a day)
8. Needing constant stimulation to keep happy/entertained
9. Easily woken up by slight noises or motions
10. Experiences early wake-ups (before 6 AM) multiple times a week
When you read this, would overtired really come to mind? Honestly, I look at this list and could be fooled into thinking that I have a very easily bored, high energy, demanding child on my hands, and them being overtired wouldn't even begin to enter my mind. That is where the confusion happens.
Kids don't exhibit tired signs the same way we do. Their bodies instead go into overdrive because they don't want to miss what is happening around them. Unfortunately, this creates confusion for parents and drives up stress and drama when the topic of going to bed arises.
Each sign of overtiredness will be addressed: going into more detail of what each one looks like, why it is a sign of being overtired in a child, and how to head it off at the pass. Be sure to check back if you recognize your child doing any of these things and learn how to help them from being overtired.
If you recognize your littles one in the list of typical signs and don't want to wait to make changes now, just click here and set up your free 15 minute consultation to learn how I can help get your child away from the overtired stage and move into the well-rested stage. Talk soon!
I am a Pediatric Sleep Consultant who works with families to help them resolve their littles' sleep issues. As a mom of two littles herself, Katie has walked in the shoes of her clients and is passionate about helping them re-discover peaceful sleeps in their own homes.