Tears, whines and frustration seem to be a common occurence in the bedtime routines of many families. If you struggle with getting your child to calm down when they are in need of sleep, you most likely feel as if you have tried everything.
Let’s review the usual suggestions :
Co-sleep- While I am a huge fan of co-sleeping, I understand that others have their reservations. If you would like to learn more about safely co-sleeping check out the resources below. For those not interested, let’s continue.
Sleep training- This approach hurts the connection, the relationship between the parent and child. Additionally, it fails to teach genuine self-regulation. There is plenty of science to show the negative effects on the brain. To put it simply, parenting should not stop when the lights go out.
Bribery, punishment, charts, etc.- While seemingly effective, these things require external motivation rather than giving the child the tools they need.
A consistent routine- Consistency is key in many areas of parenting and a routine is proven to be quite beneficial.
Here is where I think a lot of the frustration comes in. You have been doing the bath, jammies, brush teeth, bedtime story routine since they were infants, yet the battles still occur. These things should work, so why am I still up trying to convince my young child that sleep really is a necessity?
The good news is, your children are not trying to drive you mad. Bedtime can cause some anxiety for children and understandably so. They are not fans of the dark nor are they particularly in favor of being left alone. Who can blame them? For toddlers and possibly even preschoolers, I think the easiest solution is to simply lay or sit with them until they drift off. However, if that doesn’t seem doable, trying some simple meditation may help you and your child. I promise it’s really not that strange nor is it difficult. In fact, there are videos with guided meditations for children as well as adults.
I have a very anxious 6 year old and while he doesn’t fight me at bedtime, he seems to fight himself. He struggles with relaxing and getting comfortable. He would fidget for nearly an hour before falling asleep, with or without a parent at his side. Then, I discovered Yoga Nidra. We go through the above-mentioned routine and sometimes I cuddle for a while and then I turn on his guided meditation. 5 minutes, 10 minutes tops. And he sleeps so well.
If this is not something you wish to try (But what would it hurt? (: ) at least remember that they are only young once and this too shall pass. They really aren’t trying to give you a hard time rather they are having a hard time. What they need most is a loving parent who tries to keep calm and who apologizes when they slip, as we all do.
However, if you think it’s worth a shot, I’ve included a couple examples below.
Love and peace,
On co-sleeping/bed sharing:
On sleep training:
No cry solutions:
Yoga Nidra for children:
This particular one is labeled for 7-12 year olds. However, the language used seems more like 3-8-ish.
Yoga Nidra for adults: