This guest post was written by Joanna Sommer, Senior Editor for InformedMag. She is passionate about security and tech, and has been working in the home safety and security field for five years. Joanna loves to travel and enjoys going to hot yoga and Barre classes. She is dedicated to creating articles that both educate and help people make an informed purchasing decision.
Bedtime can be an anxious part of the day for many children. While sleep is essential for all of us, young children often fight falling asleep and feel uncertain about being in a dark room by themselves. Helping your child to feel safe and comfortable, and ensuring they develop the tools they need to self-soothe, are important components of getting them to sleep through the night on their own.
Create A Safe Space
Your children’s bedroom is already safe, but making them feel secure in their own mind is an important step in encouraging them to sleep through the night on their own. There are many ways to do this. You might install a nightlight in their room so that they are never in the complete dark. Adding nightlights in the hallway on the way to the bathroom or your own room can also help. Feeling safe on the way to other rooms that they may need to visit will help them to feel better in their own room.
You can also encourage your child to view a specific blanket or stuffed animal as having protective powers. If your children are especially fearful, you can say that the item is watching over them and protecting them. This security item can help them to feel more comfortable and give them the support they need to keep them calm and comfy.
Establish A Bedtime Ritual
Children often resist falling asleep and will try to push through feeling weary. Creating a consistent bedtime ritual will help your child to ease into bedtime. Fear of sleeping on one’s own is often rooted in a sense of uncertainty and insecurity. An established ritual allows your child to take comfort in knowing what to expect.
A bedtime ritual might include changing into pajamas, watching a final bedtime television show, brushing teeth, reading a bedtime story, and a final tucking in. Remember to perform each task in the same order each night to create consistency and a sense of security for your child.
Don’t Make It A Big Deal
Helping your child to feel comfortable on their own is a balancing act of acknowledging how they feel without making it into a big deal. Their fears are real to them, so you don’t want to disregard them completely. But you also don’t want to reinforce their fears by constantly asking them if they are comfortable and alright. Simply confirm that they are safe without injecting any uncertainty.
Permit you child access to you as they need it to feel comfortable. Forbidding them from coming to your room at night or to call out for you may only exacerbate their anxiety.
Avoid Letting Them Sleep In Your Bed
Until your children are comfortable sleeping on their own, avoid them sleeping in your bed. They may have free rein to enter your room when they are feeling uncertain and to talk about their feelings, but they should fall back asleep in their own bed. Simply walk them back to their room, address any concerns they may have, and tuck them back in.
If your children are having an especially hard time sleeping without you, then you may need to wean them off their dependency by sleeping on a cot or air mattress in their room for a period of time. This may not be the most comfortable solution, but it is the fastest way to condition them to be able to sleep on their own.
Enable Them To Self-Soothe In Doses
Especially in the beginning, you can build up your child’s tolerance to sleeping on their own by encouraging them to do so in doses. For instance, you can put your child to sleep and let him or her know that you will come back in to check on them after a set period of time. You can check in on them two or three times. Once your child is reassured that you are always accessible and will come back, they will start to feel calmer and drift off to sleep. The ultimate goal is that once they completely fall asleep, they will be able to stay asleep through the night on their own. Of course, in the beginning, they may wake up and feel the need to come to your room to check that you are still there and available.
Set Up A Baby Monitor
While this may sound strange, setting up a video baby monitor can also help your child settle better because they know that you can see them and, depending on the system, may be able to speak to them through the monitor. In some cases, they may actually feel safer in their own room and may be willing to stay and sleep there because they know you are watching over them.
Getting your child comfortable to sleep on their own can be a difficult and anxiety-ridden process–for both you and your child! Remember to confirm that your children are safe on their own at all times, give them access to you as they need it, and stay consistent. Establishing a set routine and transitioning your children into their own space can go a long way to getting them to finally sleeping on their own.
How do you reduce your child’s bedtime anxiety?