Our world is not designed for children. We are constantly trying to fit them into an adult world. I've found that with a few strategies and routines kids can feel more secure with their day and it leads to much better sleep. I have a blog post just on improving sleep if you're interested. These strategies and routines lead to healthier, happier kids (and parents too)!!! If these routines and lifestyles are solid, then even when life throws a major curveball our children can feel resilient and confident. The last one really is the most important so I hope you read all the way to the end!
I get it. I have 2 kids that are resolving conflict more than they are playing amicably together. These skills will help for a lifetime though. Setting up a daily routine where you pencil in screen time will be a life saver. I suggest putting screen time where you need it the most. We have it first thing in the morning while I make breakfast and possibly do some yoga. Also, before dinner so my husband or I can cook. It is recommended that kids and teens age 8-18 spend only 2 hours per day on a screen. And only 1 hour for kids younger than that. I know. My mouth dropped open when I read that too!
The first week or two will be an adjustment if they are used to getting unlimited TV and tablet, but you will be pleasantly surprised as the creativity grows. You will eventually be able to do other things while they play!!
....so build a calm down bin or 2. Now, here is the tricky, part of putting it together.... It's different for every child.
Here are some items that I have used at home and also in my classroom. When adding an item, I always introduce it and we use it all together to practice. Breathing exercises, yoga pose cards, favorite books or books about strong emotions, favorite essential oil in a roller or cotton balls in small containers, and/or some building materials like blocks or puzzles. My daughter's favorite things to do when she's upset are yoga poses, listen to music, or look out her window. My son really loves doing breathing exercises, a puzzle, or building legos and magna tiles. As they get older, these items change and they will be able to learn more about choosing their own strategies.
Kids bodies and brains need the recommended amount of sleep for proper development. That is 9-11 hours for school aged children. If you make the changes above, you will notice sleep improves pretty quickly, but here is a routine that we follow to ensure that we unwind and can fall asleep more easily. If you or your child has more severe needs, I have a guide just for better sleep.