Sleep issues

Parenting Matters: Parenting a Child with Sleep Issues


Buy now

Sleep issues are common in babies and toddlers – but for looked after and adopted children, these problems can last a lot longer or reoccur at later ages, affecting family life and meaning that children are less able to benefit from supportive care. For this group, everyday techniques to help children sleep may not be enough, as they do not address the underlying causes – these children’s difficult early experiences. 

This new title in the Parenting Matters series provides authoritative, clinical guidance for carers and adopters on why this issue can occur and what can be done about it. In straightforward language, it explains how children’s difficult early experiences can affect their behaviour; the various possible causes; how to understand what the child is experiencing and why, and how using therapeutic techniques along with practical changes can help find a solution. In the second half of the book, two adoptive families who have been affected by this issue explore what it is like to live with an affected child, and what solutions they found. 


This book is part of CoramBAAF’s Parenting Matters series which explores many of the health conditions commonly diagnosed in looked after children.

See more titles in this series

Who is this book for?

A useful book for adopters, those thinking about adopting, foster carers, social work practitioners and all those involved in the care of looked after children. The combination of expert information and case study experience will help readers gain knowledge and understanding and make informed decisions.

What you will find in this book

The first half of the book examines the often complex underlying reasons for sleep issues in fostered and adopted children, and how these may be connected to earlier experiences of abuse, neglect, loss and separation. It also considers how best to diagnose, manage and treat this issue. In the second half, personal narratives from two adoptive families explore how their child has been affected by sleep issues, and the ways in which they have managed and/or solved the child’s difficulties. 

About the authors

Jay Vaughan MA is a State Registered Dramatherapist, a Certified Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapist (DDP), a Theraplay Therapist and trainer, as well as a Somatic Experience Practitioner. Jay is Registered Manager and CEO of Family Futures, a voluntary adoption agency based in London. Jay has contributed to many articles and books and continues to consult and train on behalf of Family Futures, and carries out direct work with families and children.

Alan Burnell has been a local authority social worker and team manager of a fostering and adoption service. He was one of the initial counselling team at the Post Adoption Centre in London, where he eventually became director. In 1998, Alan was one of the founding members of Family Futures and for 20 years, until his retirement in 2019, he was Registered Manager of the agency. Alan helped to pioneer post-adoption services for children and their adoptive families and has been at the forefront of integrating neuro-scientific research and theory into family placement practice in the UK. In 2015, he received a lifetime achievement award for his work in adoption.


Parenting a Child with Sleep Issues is an excellent, concise book that addresses a serious challenge that faces many fostered and adopted children, and their families. When a child sleeps well and is able to take sleep for granted, that child feels safer, is more able to learn about self and others, and just feels good—both physically and mentally. Sleep difficulties, which tend to be frequent among traumatised children, interfere with the development of the child’s body and brain, creating pervasive, complex challenges. Vaughan and Burnell identify these problems in detail. They then present in a very organised and readable fashion the variety of interventions that are available to address them. They describe well many neurophysiological, sensory integration, relational and environmental interventions that will help the child to sleep well and then better proceed with many areas of development. I would strongly encourage parents and professionals who want to aid troubled children to sleep better, to read this book.

Dan Hughes PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy