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.
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.