Bedtime can be a difficult and anxious time for toddlers, as they may struggle with separation anxiety, fear of the dark, or worry about monsters or other imagined threats. However, there are steps that parents can take to help ease their toddler’s anxiety and make bedtime a more peaceful and comfortable experience.
- Establish a consistent bedtime routine: Having a consistent routine can help to create a sense of security and predictability for your toddler. This can include activities such as reading a story, singing a lullaby, or having a cuddle before bed.
- Create a comfortable and safe sleeping environment: Your toddler’s bedroom should be a place where they feel safe and secure. This can include having a nightlight, a favorite stuffed animal or blanket, or a sound machine to create a calming atmosphere.
- Talk to your child about their fears: Encourage your toddler to express their fears and concerns, and listen to them with empathy and understanding. You can also help to address their worries by providing reassurance, and helping them to understand that they are safe and loved.
- Use techniques to relax your child: You can use techniques such as deep breathing, visualization, or massage to help your child relax and feel more at ease before bedtime.
- Seek Professional Help: If your child’s anxiety persists, it is best to seek professional help. A child psychologist can help your child to learn coping strategies and develop positive habits for managing anxiety.
It’s important to remember that each child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. It’s important to be patient, understanding, and persistent in finding the best approach to help your child with their bedtime anxiety.
Child Anxiety at Bedtime
Is your toddler always anxious during bed time? Well, majority of children struggle when getting to sleep and staying asleep all night and the common culprit is anxiety. When toddlers do not sleep, the parents don’t sleep and the other family members become overtired and cranky mess.
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For several kids, the primary cause for worry is the fear that they will not be able to sleep. Other kids even start to worry about their sleep hours before bed time. They also wake up during midnight and worry that they will not fell asleep again. Yes, this is irrational thinking, yet trying to discuss the reason into your kid typically does not work in this case. But rather, break the cycle of worry and help your kid learn to fall asleep. It is a skill that would last for a lifetime.
Below are the ways to get rid of toddler anxiety at bedtime:
- Never Skip Pillow Talk
Spend time on your toddler’s bed or snuggle beside him or her and talk about anything’s on his or her mind. Consider setting limits. If you say it is time to go, then it’s time. Never give in to your toddler’s whining. Tell your kid in advance that you like to spend special time with him, yet you cannot stay for too long. You should not also talk a lot. There are times that listening alone would let your toddler to solve his own worries.
- Before Bedtime, Get Rid of Screens
Avoid every digital device for at least one hour before bed, about 2 hours. Screens emit blue light, which can inhibit the natural melatonin release of the body.
- Avoid Stimulants
Avoid energy drinks and caffeine and beware of the hidden stimulants in second-hand smoke and chocolates. Sleeplessness and anxiety are side effects of numerous medications and these include OTC ADHD medications and cold medications. If you think the medications of your child are part of your problem, ensure to call your physician before stopping them.
- Never Skip Story Telling
Bedtime stories can refocus the mind of your toddler in an imaginary, positive world and help them forget all of their worries. Reading to kids has been proven to help them improve their vocabulary and beneficial to their development. Look for books that your whole family will surely enjoy.
- Consider Melatonin
Supplements for short term melatonin can be a good way to get your child’s sleep cycle back on track. Basically, melatonin is a substance produced by one’s body that gives you the feeling to fall asleep. Although it can help your children fall asleep, there are limitations and risks to melatonin use and you must ask your pediatrician first before using an OTC supplement.
When you have tried everything and your toddler still experience anxiety at bedtime, it would be wise to call your pediatrician as it will help you know more about the causes of anxiety and sleeplessness. Your pediatrician will also give medications if necessary and can treat uncomplicated anxiety. However, there are times that pediatricians make a referral to a sleep center for sleep study or some tests.
Start a system for, The BIGGEST key is to stay consistent so your kiddo will know what to expect.
We always do it super nanny style:
Lay tot down
The first time they get out, walk them back, put them in bed, say “it’s bedtime, goodnight.” Walk out
the next time they get out, walk them back, put them in bed, this time only say “bedtime,” and walk out
Every time after this, walk them back, don’t say a word, put them in bed, and walk out
Keep your head in the game and do not falter from the system. Those little scoundrels can smell when you’re about to break so be strong. The first night is always the worst. Sometimes it takes hours but BE CONSISTENT. Don’t escalate or anything. Keep your temper under control and follow the strategy.
Night two is a little easier but they’ll usually try to press the line slightly.
Night three is the sweet spot and they normally don’t move.
Any night after that, follow the system. You can win this! Don’t negotiate with terrorists!
Another thing is to let him know you will come back and “check on him” in 5 minutes. Go back in two minutes. Just poke your head in and smile and let him/her know you will check back in a few more minutes. Go back in 5. Go back again in 10. This is just giving him/her reassurance that you are there for him/her [r/parenting Reddit].