It can be tempting to allow a child who’s nervous about going to sleep, maybe because they’re afraid of the dark, or regularly suffer from nightmares or night terrors, to have a staggered bedtime routine.
You could be allowing them time spent unwinding and snoozing on the downstairs sofa once they’re ready for bed, but this could be making your child’s sleep problem worse. They’ll find it increasingly difficult to get into the habit of falling asleep independently and you’ll be forever stuck with them on the sofa.
Kids need to learn how to lie in bed and fall asleep naturally. Yes, we’ve all fallen asleep in front of the TV before, only to wake up feeling disorientated and then we struggle to get to sleep when we do actually go to bed.
Disrupting the pattern of our sleep cycle regularly will only add to your bedtime troubles.
My tip: Create a ‘Worry Box’ to help with anxieties. Too often the first opportunity to think about worries is at the end of the day, when our minds are starting to slow down. Don’t be surprised if your child starts blurting out their problems at bath time. This can leave some children ‘wound up’ just when you want them to be winding down.
Encourage them to write each worry down on a piece of paper and put into a ‘Worry Box’. This can be an empty shoe box and your child can decorate it if they wish. Once the worrying thought is written down on a piece of paper, simply fold it up and pop it into the Worry Box, placing the lid firmly back on the box.
Psychological studies show that this works by tricking your mind into thinking that the worry has been dealt with. Let your child open their box once a week and look back to see how many of those ‘worries’ actually went away naturally or even needed to be have been worried about in the first place.