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Sleep Workshop: Group Guide


The Sleep Workshop has been created to help parents and caregivers deal with sleep time issues with their children. It is important for children to learn to sleep on their own and to sleep through the night. Strategies suggested in this workshop will help children learn these sleep habits.

Before the Session Starts

Materials Required:

  • Picture symbols as listed under Slide 6 (hand-out #1)
  • Handouts #2-5
  • Various examples of timers, sleep chart, sticker chart – see sample charts

Workshop Content

Introduction of speakers and topic

Hello everyone. Tonight we are going to be talking about how you can help your child sleep. My job tonight will be to facilitate the discussion, to keep us on track and to record some of our thoughts. So let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves and maybe say what brought you here this evening. What would you like to get out of this session?


This is a quick icebreaker to get people moving and to give them a bit of a challenge. Tell the participants to line up at the front of the room according to the month in which they were born, starting with January. The only catch is they can’t talk to each other. When they are lined up in order, go down the line having them call out the month in which they were born.


  1. Introduction
  2. Bedtime Difficulties
  3. Bedtime Routines
  4. Strategies to Promote Better Sleep Habits
  5. Conclusion

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: flipchart and markers)

Option 1:

Ask the parents to list possible reasons that a child might have difficulties going to sleep.

View Slides 1-4

Add any other reasons from the slides that were not already mentioned.

Option 2:

View Slides 1-4

List all the possible reasons for sleep difficulties on a flip chart from above slides. (Separation anxiety, parental preference, power struggles, nightmares and imaginary monsters, tactile sensitivity, don’t want to stop the fun, can’t relax without help, don’t recognize they are tired, want more time with parents, are worried). Then go around the room asking each parent to indicate which reason(s) apply to their child. Place a check mark beside each response as each parent gives his or her answers. Add any new reasons that are offered by parents.

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: flipchart and markers)

Before running this slide, get parents to tell the group what they do for bedtime routines on a consistent basis. Record answers on flipchart.

View Slide 5

Discuss the suggested routine with the group, for example, which strategies do they think they would like to try.

View Slide 6

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: Handout #1, “Bedtime Routine Picture Symbols”)
After running these slides, show examples of a picture symbol sleep board (e.g., “pyjamas,” “brush teeth,” “book,” “goodnight,”) and discuss how you can include choices (e.g., which story, which pyjamas) without jeopardizing the routine. Ask parents if anyone has used a timer to motivate their child to complete something.

View Slide 7

Large Group Discussion:

Discuss the “Beat The Clock” Game and how each parent needs to decide a reasonable reward.

View Slide 8

Large Group Discussion:

After showing parents this slide, explain that most children get into their parent’s bed at one time or another, especially if they are sick, having a nightmare or are afraid of something. It is really up to the parents as to how much of this practice they wish to allow. Explain that, since a child will eventually have to sleep in her/his own bed, we believe it is easier to start this practice early on in the child’s life. Allow time for discussion with parents on their views of this practice.

Role Play for Large Group:

Option 1: If you have a co-presenter, do a role play of a child who has trouble falling asleep after he is put to bed. Have her/him make all the typical excuses, e.g., monsters, etc., and when you leave the room have her/him get out of bed and join you while you watch TV. Give in to her/his demands to stay up.

Option 2: If you don’t have a co-presenter, ask one parent to act as the child making excuses and following you around the room to avoid staying in bed.

Small Group Discussion:

Divide the participants into groups of three and ask each group to think of three things that you could have done to help the child stay in bed. Have each group report back.

View Slides 9-10

Go over the suggestions on these slides (comfort level e.g. nightlight, drink; leave while child is still awake to promote learning to settle on her/his own; if child calls you: wait, reassure her/his, move farther away each time). Point out the commonalties between the participants’ suggestions and the ones on the slides.

View Slides 11-14

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: Handouts #2 “Strategies for Putting Your Child to Bed” and #3 “Bedtime Fading Program”)

Discuss the “Strategies for Putting Your Child to Bed” handout. Has anyone tried any of the strategies listed here? Have they worked for you or not?

Discuss the “Bedtime Fading Program” handout. Does this approach sound feasible?

View Slides 15-17

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: Handout #4 “Sleep Preparation Tips”)
The number of tips here can be overwhelming. Take time to go over them with the group (no caffeine/sugar, medications, exercise, nap length, quiet time, environment [dark, temperature, sound] favourite toy, relaxation exercises) and ask for feedback as to their feasibility with participants’ children.

View Slides 18-19

Large Group Discussion:

(Prep: Handout #5 “Sleep Diary”)
Give participants the handout and discuss any questions relating to the sleep diary.

View Slide 20-21

Emphasize the importance of working with professionals when parents feel that they are unable to make any progress with their child’s sleep problem.


This concludes our “Sleep Workshop”. Are there any questions about the material presented or any other questions? I would like to thank you for coming to the workshop this evening. Please take a moment to complete our workshop evaluation form. Have a great night.

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