Anxiety at bedtime is something many kids face, and parents often struggle with how they can help their children overcome these fears. Kids may develop feelings of anxiety as bedtime approaches for various reasons. While it’s normal for kids to be afraid of the dark or imagine monsters in their closets, significant anxiety at bedtime can be more problematic, especially when it comes between your child and getting a good night’s sleep.
As bedtime approaches, many become increasingly anxious and restless throughout the evening, which causes bedtime to become an even greater source of anxiety. This prevents children from being able to relax and get proper rest before facing another day. As a parent, there are several things you can do to help lessen your little one’s fears at night and help them attain a more restful night’s sleep.
Parenting Tips To Help Kids Manage Bedtime Fears
Follow a consistent bedtime routine
One of the best ways to help alleviate children’s anxiety at bedtime is to establish and stick to a consistent bedtime routine. This can help children learn to associate bedtime with more positive feelings and events. When children find themselves starting to feel anxious as bedtime approaches, they can remind themselves that bedtime means spending relaxing time alone, and resting in bed while mom or dad reads them a story or sings a lullaby.
Identify the source of the fear
As with most bedtime anxiety, the first step is to try to identify what it is that causes your little one fear. Ask children if they can articulate exactly what it is about bedtime that makes them feel scared. Is it being left alone in the dark? Ask open-ended questions and listen. No matter what they say, remember to take their concerns seriously.
Help children develop positive thoughts about bedtime
You can help your little one develop positive thoughts about bedtime by explaining that bedtime means our bodies are resting and recharging for another fun-filled day tomorrow. Explain to kids how they’ll be storing up more energy to play and have fun tomorrow after a good night’s sleep. It can also help children feel more empowered about the bedtime routine when you allow them to participate in things like choosing bedtime stories and songs. This will also help create a positive association between bedtime and the peaceful feelings.
Let kids have some say regarding when bedtime should begin
Inviting your child to have a say about when bedtime starts can help to make bedtime less of a battle at home. For instance, if you usually tell little ones that it’s time for bed immediately after dinner, but they don’t feel tired yet, we recommend allowing them to play in their room or enjoy some relaxing downtime until they start to feel tired enough to get ready for bed. This can reduce feelings of anxiety about rushing to brush their teeth and change into pajamas just because that’s what’s expected of them.
Give kids plenty of assurance bedtime won’t hurt them
If children are scared about being left alone in their bedroom, talk about bedtime with them openly and honestly. Explain that bedtime means they’ll get tucked into bed and get a hug and kiss good night. Going to bed will not cause anything that can hurt them. Let children know you also follow your own bedtime routine before you go to sleep each night as well. Remind little ones that they are safe, and that there is nothing to fear once they’re tucked into bed.
Let children snuggle with their favorite thing
When kids feel anxious at bedtime, sometimes they feel comforted by snuggling with their favorite object in bed. This is another way to help bedtime become less associated with feelings of loneliness or separation anxiety. Letting kids sleep with their favorite teddy bear or blanket can provide additional comfort and a sense of security. If your child is not comfortable going to bed in complete darkness, it can also help to turn on a dim night light.
Create bedtime rituals together
Even adults need bedtime rituals! Following a regular bedtime routine can be an effective antidote to bedtime fears because they make the evening more predictable, which can help put kids at ease. If you’re not sure how to begin, you might start by singing a song or reading a book together before bed each night. It doesn’t matter which particular bedtime rituals you create with your child, as long as they work for both of you and help to make bedtime a more peaceful time in your home.
Bedtime fears are normal for kids, but it’s important for parents to take steps to help alleviate children’s feelings of anxiety about going to bed. Try these remedies to help conquer bedtime fears in your home, and your child will be sleeping like a baby in no time!
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