Bedtime has got to be the hardest part of the day.
You’re exhausted. They’re not. (Or at least that’s the official party line.)
The end of your day is in sight but so far out of reach. This is especially true when your child deals with anxiety about bedtime.
Unfortunately, there are no simple quick fixes to help your anxious child sleep. There’s a lot of trial and error. But take heart, give some of these tips and tricks a try and I’m sure bedtime will go a little more smoothly!
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Encourage Them to Express and Get to the Root of Their Fear
This is essential. Many kids will delay bedtime, coming up with all sorts of excuses, but not actually addressing the underlying reason they’re afraid. There’s no point to fixing something if it’s not the true problem. Ask lots of questions to uncover hidden anxieties such as, “What are you worried will happen if Mommy leaves the room before you’re asleep?”.
Teach Them Breathing Techniques
We love all things yoga for calming and sensory integration. The key to yoga is controlled breathing. Teach your child to imitate different animals while controlling their breath. My son loves to do an “elephant breath” when he’s feeling fearful and out of control. While clasping his hands in front of him, he raises his arms above his head, taking a deep breath in. While he lowers his “trunk” and “sprays” everyone around him, he releases his breath. It’s a fun way to help an anxious child regain control.
Give Them Some Control
With many anxious kids, their fear stems from a lack of control. Help them regain that in an appropriate way. For some kids, their biggest concern is the length of the night. Time can seem to stretch on forever, especially when you’re too young to tell time. This Night Light/Clock is SUCH a good way to help little ones visualize when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. There’s even a setting sun and moon that literally let kids see how much longer til wake-up or bedtime. If your child fears losing communication with you when their bedroom door is shut, offer them the use of Walkie Talkies (with some firm guidelines of course.)
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know how much I encourage proprioceptive sensory input. It is my favorite for a good reason. When your child’s body is struggling to regulate for whatever reason, weight and pressure on their body and joints is calming. There are so many ways to get proprioceptive input at bedtime like Weighted Blankets and Stuffed Animals. Another way to comfort your child at bedtime, especially if they’re fearful of the dark, is a nightlight. My kids LOVE the Lite Cup. It’s an ingenious combo of sippy cup and nightlight. It’s one of those high quality cups that’s spout-less; kids can drink from anywhere on the rim! But the coolest part is how it lights up in the dark!
The light unit at the bottom of the cup can be turned on and off by an adult. While in the “on” position, it only lights up in the dark, saving battery life. They’re super handy because they can be tossed all over the bed without leakage and they’re easily found in the night because, of course, they glow! These are now the ONLY cups my boys want at bedtime!
If bedtime is becoming a nightmare at your household, try some of these ideas to help ease your child’s anxiety. Please share any ideas that have worked for you in the comments below!