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How to Reduce Your Child’s Anxiety at Bedtime

It can be difficult for a child to get quality sleep if they struggle with anxiety. Often excessive worry and ‘busy brain’ syndrome can keep them up at night or make it difficult to fall back to sleep when they wake. What causes kids to have bedtime anxiety? The most common causes of anxiety in kids are: big life changes (moving, new baby), social developments (interaction at school), or day-to-day life in general (both good and/or bad).

Anxiety can wreak havoc on your family’s sleep. We know it can lead to bedtime battles, frequent night wakes, and/or exhausting nights of providing comfort. Hang in there!  There are things you can do to help ease your child’s anxiety and work towards a better nights sleep.

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When dealing with your child’s bedtime anxiety, it is important to avoid feeling stressed about their sleep. Your child will pick up on the pressure of the situation and it can hinder forward progress. If they feel your stress around bedtime, it can make it harder for them to relax and go to sleep. So, what can you do to help reduce your child’s fears and worries?

Here are some tips to help reduce bedtime anxiety:

  • Have a family meeting and create family sleep rules. Go over the bedtime routine through pictures or verbally so that your child is clear on the expectations at bedtime and throughout the night. Just remember, if/when you implement a change in their routine give them time to adjust and stay consistent.
  • Create a consistent bedtime schedule and routine. A consistent routine helps your kids know what to expect which can relieve some anxiety around bedtime.
  • Try yoga or meditation. This is a great way for kids to relax their mind and body using breathing techniques.
  • Discuss your child’s anxiety during the day (not just before bedtime). Acknowledge that being worried is normal and that all people feel that way sometimes. Let your child know that they can always talk to you about things they feel worried about and together you can work out a solution.
  • Have them start using a journal. Have your child write down any worries or concerns.  Sometimes getting it all out on paper is enough to help.Or the journal can also act as another form of communication between the two of you. Ask if they want to share the journal with you. This could be a great tool to better understand what is bothering them and find a way to help ease their anxiety.
  • Set aside time to talk, cuddle, and be close as a family at night. Spending quality time together will help them feel safe and secure. By doing this, they will feel more at ease and share their stresses and fears and allow you to help them deal with any anxiety they are feeling.

We know that it can be really frustrating to have a child who doesn’t sleep well. But know that with some hard work from you and your child, combined with consistency and patience, you can help them manage their bedtime anxiety.

Alicia Karl
Alicia Karl
Alicia Karl is a Certified Child Sleep Consultant with Good Night Sleep Site. She helps families worldwide, better understand sleep and educates parents on how to become a well-rested family. She was born and raised in the Kansas City, Missouri area. As most of Kansas City, Alicia loves her local sports teams the Royals and the Kansas City Chiefs. She is a mother of two wonderful kids, a wife to a hard-working husband, and lives in the country with two dogs, a cat, and several chickens. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, being active outdoors, reading, and becoming an active member in her small town of Kearney, Missouri. You will often find, Alicia, holding Sleep Clinics at the local branches of the Mid-Continent Public Libraries or attending several of the local Kansas City Baby Expos. She also provides her community and followers with several on-line Sleep Clinics and sleep tips on all her social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). During her clinics, Alicia will help answer your sleep questions ranging from short naps, bedtime battles, sleep regressions, nap transitions, crib climbing, and so much more. Alicia graduated from Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and an emphasis in Communications and Human Resources. She also received a certificate from Missouri State University in Conflict Resolution, and years later, a certificate for a Child Sleep Consultant from The Family Sleep Institute. Alicia has a passion for helping people find solutions that improve their life, health, and mental well-being. She believes her education, experience, and background help her better support her clients. After spending three years as a Good Night Sleep Site Sleep Consultant and being a mom of two, Alicia, knows what it is like to struggle with sleep; and how it impacts your family as a whole. As a Sleep Consultant, clients will often say, “my child was a great sleeper and all of a sudden it changed.” This was true for her son as well. Alicia quickly learned that as a parent you don’t have all the answers and it is okay to ask for help. In fact, she became a sleep consultant after connecting with a consultant about her son’s sudden sleep struggles. It was in that moment her love for all things sleep was realized. Alicia’s goal is to not only educate parent’s about sleep, but to help them become the sleep expert for their child. She helps guide and support parent’s through the process to finding solutions for their family's sleep challenges. Alicia knows each family and child are different. This unique approach helps her create a personalized sleep plain to fit each family’s needs, and get the most from their journey to better sleep.
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