Sleepless in America: Is Your Child Misbehaving... or Missing Sleep?

( 3 )


Does your child

  • Refuse to cooperate in the morning?
  • Get into trouble for not listening?
  • "Lose it" over seemingly insignificant issues?
  • Seem to resist sleep?

An estimated 69 percent of American infants, children, and teens are sleep deprived. Studies have shown that sleep deficits can contribute to hyperactivity, distraction, forgetfulness,...

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Sleepless in America

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Does your child

  • Refuse to cooperate in the morning?
  • Get into trouble for not listening?
  • "Lose it" over seemingly insignificant issues?
  • Seem to resist sleep?

An estimated 69 percent of American infants, children, and teens are sleep deprived. Studies have shown that sleep deficits can contribute to hyperactivity, distraction, forgetfulness, learning problems, illness, accidents, and disruptive behaviors. Often what our misbehaving kids really need isn't more "consequences" or more medication but more sleep.

Sleepless in America offers weary and frustrated parents a helping hand and an exciting new approach to managing challenging behaviors by integrating research on stress, sleep, and temperament with practical strategies and a five-step approach that enables parents to help their "tired and wired" children get the sleep they so desperately need.

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Editorial Reviews

Evonne Weinhaus and Karen Friedman
“A well-written, comprehensive, and above all loving and positive approach to understanding that oh-so challenging child.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s Sleepless in America has some of the best tips for sleepy families.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Mary Sheedy Kurcinka’s Sleepless in America has some of the best tips for sleepy families.”
Library Journal
Many books have been written about children and sleep, but this one-which focuses on the effects of sleep deprivation and misbehavior in children-contains comprehensive advice backed by scientific research. Licensed teacher Kurcinka (founder, Spirited Child and Power Struggles Workshop; Raising Your Spirited Child) addresses the countless sleep suggestions that have been made by others and formulates her own humane, sympathetic, and tailored approach. She stresses becoming aware of the decisions we make that influence how much sleep our family gets, making sleeping a priority, and figuring out the most effective techniques to help our children sleep. She specifically looks at children's different temperaments and formulates strategies and techniques based on individual needs. Just when you thought you'd read every sleep book out there, along comes this virtual sleep support group. Highly recommended for public libraries.-Kari Ramstrom, MLIS, Plymouth, MN Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060736026
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/2/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 227,642
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, M.A., is an award-winning educator in Minnesota's Early Childhood Family Education Program, and founder of the Spirited Child and Power Struggles workshops. She is the bestselling author of Sleepless in America and Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles, and she lives with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Read an Excerpt

Sleepless in America

Is Your Child Misbehaving or Missing Sleep?
By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060736011

Chapter One

Temper Tantrums, Morning
Wars, Homework Hassles

What does sleep have to
do with misbehavior?

"The difference between a child who is well rested and one who is not is a smile on his face -- and on yours."
-- Joe, father of two

The trouble with a child who is missing sleep is that her behavior is confusing. It's hard to believe that the real culprit behind her temper tantrum is lack of sleep when bedtime is one of your biggest battles, or she loses it simply because you dropped her water bottle. And when she can't even dress herself, even though she did it yesterday, it feels more like a plot against you than an issue of fatigue. How can a child who is supposedly so tired somehow garner the energy to veer off her path just far enough to bop her brother in the head, and jump on her bed laughing hysterically when you try to get her down for the night?

But if your child is misbehaving, it's very likely that he or she is crying for sleep. Sleep-deprived children can include babies who are sleeping less than 14-16 hours in a 24-hour period; toddlers sleeping less than 13 hours, preschoolers less than 12 hours, school-age children less than 10 hours, or adolescents sleeping less than 9.25 hours a night. And until your child gets more sleep, no punishment, no discipline strategy will stop the challenging behaviors. Sound sleep is a key to good behavior. The problem is that children rarely tell you that they are tired. Instead, they get wired, which escalates into a frenzy of energy. It's as though their body is out of control -- and it is.

Suspecting that your child might be tired, you may have even tried to put him to bed at a reasonable hour, but it's as though he fights sleep. If he's an infant, just as you think he is about to drop off, he jerks awake, thrashing and shrieking. And if he is older, no matter what you do, he still complains that he can't fall asleep, wakes frequently in the night, and all too often awakens early. Since your efforts are unrewarded, it's easy to assume that he does not need much sleep. The misbehavior and whining continue, and the connection to lack of sleep remains a mystery. That's what happened in Samantha's family. On Saturday, eight-year-old Samantha was a delight. She accepted the news that her favorite cereal was gone with a mere sigh of disappointment. Over breakfast, she chatted cheerfully with her parents and even allowed her brother to join the conversation. When the baby reached for her toast, she offered him a bite instead of slapping his hand. He squealed with pleasure. Without complaining, she cleaned her room, and didn't lag behind on a trip to the shopping center. Her parents grinned, proud of their skill and glorying in their daughter's energy and enthusiasm for life. But Sunday was a different story.

On Sunday, Samantha wouldn't get out of bed, despite the planned outing with her grandparents. She shrieked in protest when her mother announced it was too cold to wear shorts, and shoved her brother away when he came to investigate the problem. The baby, hearing the high-pitched screams, sat saucer-eyed in fear. Unfortunately, it was also a bad-hair day, an occurrence that overwhelmed Samantha and dropped her to her knees, tears spurting from her eyes. No matter what her parents did to remedy the situation, they couldn't get it right. She reeled in their arms, and then bolted from the room. Same child, same parents, same week -- why such a difference in mood and behavior?

On Friday night, Samantha had enjoyed ten hours of sound slumber. She had been so pleasant on Saturday that her parents rewarded her by letting her stay up late to watch a movie. But on Sunday morning, plans precluded her sleeping in, leaving Samantha short on sleep. The tantrum got her parents' attention but not the association with lack of sleep.

Sometimes It's Easier to Recognize Sleep
Deprivation in Yourself

I first met Samantha's mother, Sara, when she attended one of the weekly classes I teach for parents in St. Paul, Minnesota. Every week, for eight weeks, sixteen parents and their children arrive at the center. From the beginning, some stroll into the room ready to visit with friends, and learn new, effective strategies for working together. Others initially slip quietly through the door, weary. They wonder if there really is information that can help them, or if they are the only ones facing the issues that trouble them. Almost always I am rewarded weeks later, as they, too, arrive smiling, with a proud stride to their step. I never grow tired of welcoming them, and am always eager to understand the issues they face.

When I'm not teaching in St. Paul, I lead large workshops all over North America, as well as offer private consultations for families. I also write. My previous books have included Raising Your Spirited Child; Raising Your Spirited Child Workbook; and Kids, Parents and Power Struggles. Whether I am writing, working one on one with a family, leading a small discussion group, or speaking to a thousand parents and professionals, I am always deeply grateful that this is my work.

Initially, when I brought up the topic of sleep in class, Sara was skeptical. What could sleep -- or lack of it -- possibly have to do with the fact that Samantha was constantly overreacting to the simplest requests? Or that her four-year-old son became "mother-deaf," unwilling to listen every afternoon at five. Especially since the mere word "bedtime" could send both of them to the moon. So, I asked her to take note of her own feelings when she was short on sleep. The next week, she had a story to tell.


Excerpted from Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka Copyright © 2006 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2014

    Love this book! Found it after reading her book, Raising Your Sp

    Love this book! Found it after reading her book, Raising Your Spirited Child. Lots of stories to help you feel less alone in your struggle for sleep with a sleepless child. Gave the how and the why behind every technique that she suggests and lets you know that it's okay to try and fail and then try again. Felt very reassuring and non judgmental We have recommended this book many times to other parents who's children struggle with sleep!.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2006

    Good information, but a wordy format

    I agree that our kids don't get enough sleep. Half of this book tells me this - page after page of it. But what I wanted was ideas to GET my kids to sleep better! There are some throughout the book but it takes a sharp brain to find it all and put it together. Even though my kids are older than preschool I found a better and more concise plan of ideas in the book title shown below -- worked perfectly for us.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews

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